This opportunity is closed for applications

The deadline was Thursday 10 December 2020
Serious Fraud Office


6 Incomplete applications

3 SME, 3 large

3 Completed applications

2 SME, 1 large

Important dates

Thursday 26 November 2020
Deadline for asking questions
Thursday 3 December 2020 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Thursday 10 December 2020 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
The aim of the project is to identify a viable strategy for analysing, re-archiving and disposing of legacy SFO data held on back up tapes. This discovery phase will involve requirements gathering, along with the recovery of a small number of tapes to assess technical and legal issues.
Latest start date
Monday 1 February 2021
Expected contract length
9 to 12 months
Organisation the work is for
Serious Fraud Office
Budget range

About the work

Why the work is being done
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has a requirement to start addressing its legacy data holdings currently held on back up tapes. The SFO must comply with its obligations towards the security and retention of its data estate. This is phase one of the solution, undertaking a discovery exercise to set the strategy for, and test the methodology of the review, restoration, and disposal of SFO data on backup tapes. The project is due to commence on 1 February 2021.
Problem to be solved
To reduce the risk around data loss and ensure compliance with legislative obligations by engaging professional services on data protection, legal and technical issues, data management, migration and recovery strategy, legacy data recovery including hardware and software format obsolescence expertise and data storage and analysis
Who the users are and what they need to do
The SFO needs to know whether 25 - 30 back up tapes in a variety of formats can be assessed and have the files and metadata identified along with the provision of reports on the files and other related work.
The SFO needs assistance to conduct a discovery exercise to identify and document the SFO's requirements towards the review, retention and disposal of historical data held on its backup tape legacy.
The SFO needs assistance to produce a strategy document that describes how the SFO will approach the legacy of historical data held on its entire backup estate.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
Existing team
Working with the SFO's internal IT team, it is not envisaged that other suppliers will be directly involved.
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
Serious Fraud Office, 2 - 4 Cockspur Street, London, SW1Y 5BS.
Working arrangements
A mixture of remote working during the Covid pandemic, with an average of 3 days working from the office once the situation has changed.
Security clearance
SC level security clearance will be required which, if not already held will be undertaken by the SFO.

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
Additional documents to apply are:
Sending Structured Data to the SFO
Security Policy for Suppliers

Skills and experience

Buyers will use the essential and nice-to-have skills and experience to help them evaluate suppliers’ technical competence.

Essential skills and experience
  • Be able to receive back up tapes and recover data from them.
  • Have expertise of analysing and reporting over large data sets.
  • Be able to handle back up tapes in line with NCSC and government security standards.
  • Be able to protect the integrity of SFO data from the back up tapes during processing.
  • Have proven information governance and information management experience including specifically on retention and disposal processes.
  • Have expertise in information legislation including GDPR, the Data Protection Act 2018, Public Records Act 1958, and Freedom of Information Act 2000 and apply to a law enforcement context.
  • Have experience of devising and leading discovery exercises in information governance.
  • Have expertise of devising new approaches to information governance.
  • Have experience of producing information management strategies.
  • Have experience of accurate forecasting for the cost of project delivery.
  • Have expertise around retention and disposal policies in government.
  • Have expertise around data back up infrastructure and processes.
  • Have expertise in protecting personal data and building data protection principles in to new approaches by design.
  • Be available for a presentation in January with a view to commencing the project in February 21.
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Have expertise in E-Discovery
  • Have knowledge of law enforcement legislation including PACE and CPIA.

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • technical solution
  • approach and methodology
  • how the approach or solution meets the SFO's policy or goal
  • estimated timeframes for the work
  • how the supplier identifies risks and dependencies and approaches offered to manage them.
  • Value for money
Cultural fit criteria
•work as a team with our organisation and other suppliers
Payment approach
Time and materials
Additional assessment methods
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. If you wish to see a copy of the Statement of Requirements.
Please email Karen James at
If you wish to see a copy of the Statement of Requirements.
Please email Karen James at
2. What is the specification, number, condition (oxidisation), volume and capacity of the tapes in scope?
This exercise will involve attempting to restore sample backup tapes in a variety of formats, including LTO 1 - LTO 4, and DLT. The exact number of tapes is to be defined on the basis of the strategy we develop and agree, we anticipate attempting to restore in the region of up to 50 tapes created from the mid-1990s - 2010. The tape capacity will therefore vary, somewhere between 200Gb - 800Gb per tape if full. The level of oxidisation on the tapes is unknown, but can be assumed normal for tapes stored in archival conditions since that period.
3. What is the manufacturer of the tapes in scope and what software was previously used to access them?
The tapes will have various manufacturers. The software used to create them was Arcserve.
4. What is the size of the data in scope?
The exact number and format of tapes to restore is subject to our requirements and the strategy we define and agree, but we estimate that we will want to restore up to 50 tapes from the mid-1990s - 2010. As an estimate, based on the LTO 1 - LTO 4, and DLT formats that could be a total of 12 - 20 Tb, assuming maximum tape capacity used.
5. What databases or data structures/format is the data in?
If you are referring to the type of data held on the tapes, then it will mostly be Microsoft Windows files, MS Office files, MS Exchange data, SQL databases, Oracle Databases, possibly some proprietary database formats, and possibly some Unix/Linux.
6. Would it be correct to assume that the SFO does not have devices that will read these tapes?
The SFO does not have devices that will read tapes written before approx. 2010.
7. Would it be correct to assume that the SFO, if it has compatible devices, has been unable to read these tapes?
The SFO does not have devices that will read tapes written before approx. 2010, however it has been possible for external suppliers to restore data from such tapes in the past on an ad hoc basis.
8. Is the SFO able to unencrypt the tape contents?
The tapes are not encrypted.
9. Is the SFO able to unencrypt the tape contents?
The tapes are not encrypted.
10. What is the data format/type of the tapes?
The format of tape will include LTO 1 - LTO 4 and DLT, created using Arcserve software.
11. What is the data format/type of the tapes?
The format of tape will include LTO 1 - LTO 4 and DLT, created using Arcserve software.
12. What amount/size of data does each tape hold?
The size will depend on the format of tape and whether they are full to maximum capacity. We estimate this could be somewhere between 200Gb - 800Gb per tape (if full).
13. What is the catalogue sequence of the tapes?
Please can you clarify the question.
14. What number of tapes constitutes a backup set?
During the period likely to be in scope (mid 1990s - 2010) it's likely that a monthly backup set will be between 4 - 10 tapes.
15. Are all the back up sets complete?
We believe so, but in some cases the set may not be complete for various reasons.
16. 1. There are a number of factors that determine if a tape can be restored. Can SFO confirm if the proposed sample of tapes have an appropriate catalogue to support their restoration?

2. Does SFO have an understanding of the average tape data size, or overall data volume that may be held in the sample of backup tapes to be restored?
"We do not have the catalogues, but they shouldn't be required - the catalogue can be created by re-indexing / importing the tape into their recovery system. To clarify, catalogues may be on the tapes we choose to sample, but you would need to catalogue the tape first to find it.

No. Based on the DLT and LTO1-4 formats we estimate that a sample of up to 50 tapes could hold approx. 12-20Tb. "