Awarded to Atos IT Services UK Ltd

Start date: Monday 11 October 2021
Value: £9,980,000
Company size: large
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Defra Cloud Infrastructure Engineering Services

14 Incomplete applications

11 SME, 3 large

27 Completed applications

9 SME, 18 large

Important dates

Published
Tuesday 8 June 2021
Deadline for asking questions
Tuesday 15 June 2021 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Tuesday 22 June 2021 at 11:59pm GMT

Overview

Off-payroll (IR35) determination
Summary of the work
Cloud Engineering- To deliver, enhance and support Defra's public cloud hosting platforms, to enable Defra's internal customer programmes to succeed. To contribute to the development and growth of Defra's own internal Public Cloud team capabilities.
Latest start date
Monday 11 October 2021
Expected contract length
12 months with options to extend for two period of upto 6 months
Location
No specific location, for example they can work remotely
Organisation the work is for
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Budget range
£5m-£9.8m

About the work

Why the work is being done
To support Defra's Cloud Centre of Excellence in enabling Defra Group to continue to transform its support for Digital public service delivery. Defra is looking to enhance its Cloud Engineering capabilities in order to support growth in the use of public cloud tools.

This is part of Defra's 'Cloud First' strategy for digital delivery. This work will seek to align a number of existing contracts within Cloud Centre of Excellence to a single supplier to support our deliverables.

We require a supplier to be ready for onboarding no later that 11/10/21

Please read the Instructions to Suppliers Document for further information on timelines and evaluation methodology- https://drive.google.com/file/d/1LfhJuJBrz84xuLTxVHynrzMmk4wmZ_Zb/view?usp=sharing
Problem to be solved
Defra has developed hosting and infrastructure as code solutions and services to underpin its enterprise transformation programme activities. This work requires a supplier to further develop and iterate these capabilities.

Defra needs a supplier to work with internal customer teams to support and enhance the use of Public Cloud tools across IaaS, PaaS and SaaS products. This must be achieved in a way which integrates with, and develops, Defra's Service Management Operating Model.
Who the users are and what they need to do
As a service delivery team (internal customer within Defra) we need cloud engineering service support in line with Defra's operating guidance and strategy. So that we can reduce risk, improve the speed and lower costs of releases with new and enhanced products.
Early market engagement
N/A
Any work that’s already been done
N/A
Existing team
The successful supplier will be working with internal customer teams and service delivery teams some of which contain suppliers.

Defra is seeking a business partner to work as part of an extensive network of suppliers as part of a collaborative team.

Defra has also commenced on a programme to increase the number of permanent civil servants within the Cloud Centre of Excellence. The successful supplier will also be expected to work with and develop those internal staff members to enhance the internal capability.
Current phase
Live

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
Multiple Locations
Work from home (Covid) / Bristol / Reading / Warrington / York / London
Working arrangements
Primarily working from home.

Working onsite in Defra offices as required on a project basis (approx 2 days per fortnight) once Covid restrictions are lifted.

Occasional travel to other Defra sites may be required.

More extensive remote working may be required in the short term due to COVID restrictions.

Core hours (08:00 - 18:00 Mon-Fri)
Extended Hours (07:00 - 19:00 Mon-Fri)
Out Of Hours (24/7) support for incident management and response and release activity for high priority services.

Expenses will be reimbursed inline with Defra policy
Security clearance
All staff will be required to have BPSS clearance is minimum. Most staff will be required to be SC cleared, if not already in place, this will be sponsored by Defra.

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
We will include the following optional schedules
• Schedule 8 (Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery)
• Schedule 14 (Service Levels and Balance Scorecard)
• Schedule 18 (Background Checks)
• Schedule 25 (Ethical Walls Agreement)
• Schedule 26 (Cyber Essentials Scheme)

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
  • Provide an example demonstrating capabilities; maintain, develop, define delivery patterns for cloud environment (Development through to Production) and full managed support of Pre-Production+Production environments across Azure/AWS large scale.
  • Provide an example of hosting and cloud platform management services, supported by MI systems and dashboards. Demonstrate continuous improvement, Describe and evidence this showing where/how they’ve been used.
  • Describe and provide evidence where and when you have developed, iterated and supported Cloud Platform products and services, for example; AWS, Microsoft, Octopus Deploy, Azure DevOps.
  • Provide an example of configuration, administration and operation of Microsoft Azure and AWS Cloud IaaS and PaaS services.
  • Can you provide the following Cloud Platform support services: Core hours (08:00 - 18:00 Mon-Fri), Extended (07:00 - 19:00 Mon-Fri) Out Of Hours (24/7) for incident management, response, release activity
  • Detail how you scale up engineering skilled resources to meet customer demand at pace. Minimum 80% of resources being employees rather than contractors. include numbers, type of resources, assignment time?
  • How will you integrate with our in-house engineering resources seamlessly, share knowledge, provide skills transfer and develop our resource's capability? Include tools/best practice/past examples
  • Demonstrate how you'll provide an integrated agile specialist managing daily delivery of teams, allocating resource to agile ceremonies, respond to requirements for incident, problem resolution, service monitoring, technical requirements reviews?
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Describe and evidence your ability to work with Cloud service providers ( Microsoft and AWS) to manage and maintain infrastructure and platform services, working collaboratively to resolve platform incidents?
  • Provide an example of your experience of delivering within large scale deliveries with multi-faceted workstreams in the public sector?
  • Describe and evidence your ability to demonstrate keeping your workforce upto date with current and emerging technologies and toolsets?

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
5
Proposal criteria
  • Provide upto 3 examples of relevant previous contracts worked on in the past 2 years. Examples must show the skills/experience of resources who’ll be working on this requirement.
  • Describe the approach/ methodology you’ll take to meet Defra’s requirements. How you’ll manage the work and maintain quality. Describe any innovations you would propose in the delivery of the requirements.
  • Describe the specific technical approach or solution you’re proposing. The capability should be demonstrated with an example showing where this has been delivered elsewhere previously.
  • Describe the team, how they’ll work together and with others. List the number of roles, responsibilities, any relevant qualifications. Demonstrate how quickly the team can be mobilised and ramped up.
  • Describe how your proposal will optimise costs and generate savings. Please give details of previous experience optimizing cost for a customer similar to Defra.
  • Describe how you will keep your team up to date with emerging industry trends and best practice and provide skills transfer and develop Defra permanent resources with this knowledge
  • Explain any risks and dependencies identified and your proposed approaches to manage them? Set out how you will identify and mange risks and dependences throughout the life of the contract.
Cultural fit criteria
Demonstrate how you can work as a team with our organisation, alongside other suppliers in a transparent and collaborative approach, share knowledge with wider teams and build capability in Defra?
Payment approach
Time and materials
Additional assessment methods
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence

70%

Cultural fit

5%

Price

25%

Questions asked by suppliers

1. What are the specific technologies/tools used in Defra which bidders should be proficient with?
Operating System:
Linux (mostly Ubuntu) Sysadmin
Windows (2012/2016) Sysadmin

Automation&scripting:
Infrastructure as Code (IaC) using ARM templates
Infrastructure as Code (IaC) using Terraform
Ansible
PowerShell
Octopus-Deploy
Jenkins
Azure-Pipelines

Configuration of Cloud IaaS&PaaS services, their administration/operation:
Azure Portal, CLI and PowerShell
AWS Console, CLI and Python
Azure Storage and Networking
AWS VPC Networking

Azure PaaS solutions, including Azure SQL, Logic Apps, App Services (Function Apps, Web Apps), Redis, Cosmos DB

AWS PaaS solution, PostgreSQL RDS, ECS, Elasticache, DynamoDB, S3

Azure monitoring and diagnostic functions
AWS CloudWatch monitoring

Configuration and operating developer tooling:
MS Virtual Studio
MS Azure DevOps
SonarQube
Artifactory
Jenkins
2. Who from your team will be scoring applications for this opportunity and what positions do they hold?
Due to GDPR we are unable to provide you with names however, the evaluation team will be made up of the; Head of Cloud Business Office,
Head of Cloud Engineering (Infrastructure) and a Senior Service Owner (M365), supported by finance and commercial professionals.
3. Can you please advise the timelines of this procurement (e.g. shortlisted companies notified, anticipated contract award)? Also, can you confirm if shortlisted suppliers will have the opportunity to present?
The timeline for the procurement can be found in the instructions to suppliers document, on page 2- https://drive.google.com/file/d/1LfhJuJBrz84xuLTxVHynrzMmk4wmZ_Zb/view
A presentation will not form part the assessments stage, therefore the suppliers will not have the opportunity to present.
4. Who is the incumbent and how long they have been the incumbent?
The current contract was awarded to the incumbent in September 2020. The redacted contract is available and published on Contracts Finder
5. Regarding the requirement ‘Can you provide the following Cloud Platform support services: Core hours (08:00 – 18:00 Mon-Fri), Extended (07:00 – 19:00 Mon-Fri) Out Of Hours (24/7) for incident management, response, release activity’, please can you advise if you need suppliers to provide evidence of having done this elsewhere or if we can simply answer this question with Yes/No?
The word count on the question response is 100 words so we would encourage you to make use of this through evidence where possible to achieve the highest available mark.
6. Please could you provide a reference for the current contract which was awarded to the incumbent supplier in September 2020 as we cannot find it on Contracts Finder?
Here is the link to the Contract Finder notice- https://www.contractsfinder.service.gov.uk/notice/a4956238-8a2e-41f2-b28f-613c3c02ad4e?origin=SearchResults&p=1
7. Can you provide the following Cloud Platform support services: Core hours (08:00 – 18:00 Mon-Fri), Extended (07:00 – 19:00 Mon-Fri) Out Of Hours (24/7) for incident management, response, release activity”
Are you looking for a from supplier to confirm(Yes/No) or you are looking for examples for similar work?
As per the response to Q5 examples or evidence would be welcomed.
8. Has a third party been involved with the project so far? If yes could you name the supplier?
Please can you confirm what you mean by project? The requirements are for a supplier to support our in-house team across a number of projects. We do currently have a supplier supporting the Cloud Centre of Excellence, details of which can be found in our response to question 4 and 6.
9. Are there any restrictions on where (geographically) the resources will be based and their nationalities ?
We expect resources to be based in the UK to enable them to attend Defra offices as detailed in the working arrangement section of the requirements. With regards to nationalities, there are no restrictions providing they have the right to work in the UK and are able to obtain BPSS and, for the majority of roles, SC security clearance.
10. Are bidders permitted to use two examples within a question response?
Yes bidder are able to use as many examples as they like in their responses, providing they do not exceed the 100 word limit.
11. Please can you confirm if the Cultural Fit Criteria question is to be answered as part of Stage 1 of this tender?
Yes this will be assessed as part of Stage one.
12. Can more than 1 example be used in response to questions asking for “an example”?
Yes- please see response to question 10.
13. Why are you looking to contract for a 12 month period, with 2 x 6 month extensions rather than a single 24 month period?
A 12+6+6 term allows us the flexibility needed as Defra develops its strategic recruitment plans for Digital Professionals.
14. What is Defra’s target ratio between civil servants and supplier employees?
70:30 is the long term target ratio, however Defra expect this to take a number of years to achieve.
15. In this question (see below), please can you clarify what roles you are expecting, as you can imagine there are alot roles and to target the requirement in 100 words we need to be specific
Detail how you scale up engineering skilled resources to meet customer demand at pace. Minimum 80% of resources being employees rather than contractors. include numbers, type of resources, assignment time?
We expect the bulk of the deployed resources to be skilled cloud infrastructure engineers, capable of delivering the requests specified within the ITT.
16. Why are you requesting that a minimum 80% of resources be employees rather than contractors?
To reduce the risk of over reliance on additional subcontractors and the risk of services being withdrawn with little notice we have put a threshold in place.
17. Why are you requesting that a minimum 80% of resources be employees rather than contractors? This appears to be mandating the operating model of the supplier, rather than the outcome needed.
To reduce the risk of over reliance on additional subcontractors and the risk of services being withdrawn with little notice we have put a threshold in place.
18. Could DEFRA please explain how they are ensuring incumbent suppliers do not have an unfair advantage during the bid stage. Are incumbent supplier staff able to participate in the bid process in any way, have incumbent suppliers been asked to commit to an ethical wall?
The tender process is being managed on Digital MarketPlace, where all suppliers have an equal opportunity to ask questions, access the requirements and review published answers to ensure transparency.

The incumbent supplier has not had access to any additional documents or data so has the same advantage as all other potential bidders. Internal staff involved in the procurement have all completed a Conflict of Interest form.
As the incumbent supplier is an SME it was felt it would inappropriate to ask them to commit to an ethical wall agreement.
19. 1. Referring to CQ 11 ‘11. Please can you confirm if the Cultural Fit Criteria question is to be answered as part of Stage 1 of this tender? ‘. There is no provision to answer Cultural fit in Stage 1. Could you please confirm again for stage 1 we have to answer Essentials 8 Qs and Nice to have 3 Qs.

2. What is the weightage of Stage 1, which will be carried forward to stage 2 Is it 30% or more.
As the Cultural Fit Criteria cannot be answered as part of stage one, we will assess in stage two. Apologies for any confusion.

The essential skill and experience assessed at stage one have a overall weighting of 25%, the nice to have have a weighting of 5%. These will be carried forward to stage two, with the Proposal weighted at 40%, Cultural fit at 5% and Price at 25%. More detail can be found in the instructions to supplier document on page 5.
20. You confirmed in your response to Q11 that the cultural fit question will be assessed in Stage 1. However, that question does not appear in Stage 1. How will this element be assessed/scored in Stage 1?
See answer to Q19 apologies for any confusion
21. Are you intending to carry forward the stage 1 scoring for the final evaluation? if yes what scoring % will be carried forward?
Yes the scores from Stage one will be carried forward to the final evaluation.

The essential skill and experience assessed at stage one have a overall weighting of 25%, the nice to have have a weighting of 5%. These will be carried forward to stage two, with the Proposal weighted at 40%, Cultural fit at 5% and Price at 25%. More detail can be found in the instructions to supplier document on page 5.
22. Detail how you scale up engineering skilled resources to meet customer demand at pace. Minimum 80% of resources being employees rather than contractors. include numbers, type of resources, assignment time?”

For above essential criteria – are you expecting 80% resources to be employees rather than contractors throughout the duration of the contract?
This question limits the SMEs from competing against large IT suppliers who can have people on bench. A lot of SMEs are able to scale by associate programmes/contractors. We have scaled teams in 1/2 weeks notice, why is the criteria for 80% resources being employees important?
Yes, we have set the minimum criteria of 80% resources to be employed rather than contractors, throughout the duration of the contract.

This is in order to reduce the risk of over reliance on additional subcontractors and the risk of services being withdrawn with little notice. One of our key requirements is that we have continuity of service, due to the high priority nature of some of the applications being supported by this contract
23. For the nice to have question ‘Provide an example of your experience of delivering within large scale deliveries with multi-faceted workstreams in the public sector?’ Are you asking for general delivery experience e.g. digital or specific to Cloud Engineering Services?
If possible, it is recommended the evidence provided is based on your ability and experience of delivering cloud engineering services.
24. Can you please advise the key drivers as to why you’re coming to market?
Defra's current contract for these services is due to expire in December 2021 therefor we are testing the market for replacement services. Defra is unable to fulfil these requirement with internal resources which is the driver for running a competition.
25. Can you give an indication of the size of the estate that this contract will support?
Currently the Cloud Centre of Excellence in Defra are actively supporting the following number of digital projects - Prospect 62, Proof of concepts 10, delivery 32 and live 46 across both AWS and Azure platforms.
26. For” Provide an example of your experience of delivering within large scale deliveries with multi-faceted workstreams in the public sector?"
Yes this is the delivery, not just program management, of multiple workstreams facing off to multiple suppliers in an agile setting.
27. For the first Essential Skills and Experience question “Provide an example demonstrating capabilities… across Azure/AWS large scale.”, please could you advise whether the example needs to be for a multi-cloud (Azure and AWS) provision, or either Azure or AWS?
The Cloud Centre of Excellence are responsible for providing support across both AWS and Azure platforms the example should demonstrate the ability to deliver this capability this can be provided either as a single example or separate example for each.
28. You have asked suppliers to provide an example of configuration, administration and operation of Microsoft Azure and AWS Cloud IaaS and PaaS services; please could you advise whether you want an example of a multi-cloud (Azure and AWS) provision or one of each?
The Cloud Centre of Excellence are responsible for providing support across both AWS and Azure platforms the example should demonstrate the ability to deliver this capability this can be provided either as a single example or separate example for each
29. Please can you confirm what you mean by subcontractors?
In your response to clarification questions 16 & 17, you have stated that you wish to reduce the risk of over reliance on additional subcontractors and the risk of services being withdrawn with little notice we have put a threshold in place.
A subcontractor is a party who are carrying out work on behalf of the supplier but who are not employed by the supplier.
30. Can Defra please provide clarity on what is meant by Cloud Platform Management services and MI Systems/Dashboards for the same?
AWS and Azure platforms form the foundation of cloud delivery in Defra, the Cloud Centre of Excellence manage the platforms and supporting infrastructure components hosted on these, monitoring the performance of these platforms and infrastructure elements. MI should be considered to inform the authority on the performance of the platforms and utilised infrastructure components in real time.
31. What is the scale of the existing Cloud infrastructure? Number of services etc?
Currently the Cloud Centre of Excellence in Defra are actively supporting the following number of digital projects - Prospect 62, Proof of concepts 10, delivery 32 and live 46 across both AWS and Azure platforms. More detail will be provided at stage two to shortlisted suppliers upon the return of a signed NDA.
32. Can you please describe the scale of the on-premises infrastructure?
This is a cloud procurement and the on premises infrastructure is not in the scope of this activity.
33. Can you please provide a list of the roles/resources that this contract needs to fulfil?
The current team has 22 cloud engineering resources in place covering direct engineering and delivery capability, however this fluctuate depending on demand. We are looking for the optimum balance to maintain delivery with the demand of projects whilst maintaining value for money.
34. Please confirm the size/roles of the current Defra cloud team?
The current team has 22 cloud engineering resources in place covering direct engineering and delivery capability, however this fluctuate depending on demand. We are looking for the optimum balance to maintain delivery with the demand of projects whilst maintaining value for money.
35. Apart from what is already provided/requested, is there a final technology skills matrix to match resourcing profiles?
We are looking for resources that have the skills listed for the technologies in Question 1, but who are a also keeping pace with emerging technologies and tools that are being introduced to the industry.
36. Is the current infrastructure well documented and will we have access to resources that currently support it?
The infrastructure is documented through foundation service designs and operational guides and this will be available to the successful supplier. An 8 week dual running period with the incumbent supplier is planned into the timeline to facilitate and support knowledge transfer.
37. Other than scripting for infrastructure deployment, is there a software development or DBA requirement?
The current requirements is to support the core infrastructure deployment and there is no requirement software development. Although there is no demand currently for DBA support, this may form part of a future requirement and this would be detailed in a Statement of Works.
38. Given the timescales, what is the target staff deployment you are looking for us to supply in October?
There is an 8 week dual running period built into the timescales with the incumbent to allow for knowledge transfer. We would expect enough resources to be available for this, to allow smooth transition and uninterrupted delivery.
39. Would you consider a phased deployment allowing us to increase head count during first 3/6 months (with agreed SLA’s)
No
40. Expenses will be reimbursed inline with Defra policy’ – Could the Authority please share the Expense Reimbursement Defra policy?
Defra's T&S policy can be found here- https://drive.google.com/file/d/1GqttC3uULpYagCXJ5Ave-anAFEjF-ryz/view?usp=sharing
41. You indicate a desire for the new supplier to develop/train internal resource to aid up skilling which we assume is to achieve the stated 70/30 split of civil servants vs. supplier resources. Can you please confirm:
o How much of your stated budget is for training?
o How much of your stated budget is for staff augmentation?
o How much of your stated budget is intended to cover projects/upgrades/development?
o What is the current split of Civil servants vs. supplier resources?
Recruitment for permanent resource is currently underway so we are unable to state what the final numbers of permeant resources will be, although we are targeting a 70/30 split, this is dependant on a successful recruitment campaign.

The Learning & Development budget is sperate to the stated budget for this procurement. The L&D budget is for formal training activities for any permanent staff. The staff augmentation work is expected to run alongside BAU activities as informal mentoring and practical experience learning. All Formal training is provisioned separately through training delivery partners.
42. Referring to your response to clarification 19.1, please can you advise how you wish suppliers to respond to the Cultural Fit question. The portal will not allow you to proceed/submit unless all questions are answered. Can suppliers simply state that as per the clarifications this question is not applicable? Thank you
As stated in Question 19 the Cultural Fit criteria will be assessed at stage 2. There will be space in proposal brief for shortlisted suppliers to answer this question, therefore if the portal is asking for response at this stage the supplier should put not applicable.
43. You have asked suppliers to “Detail how you scale up engineering skilled resources to meet customer demand at pace. Minimum 80% of resources being employees rather than contractors.  include numbers, type of resources, assignment time?”
• If a supplier can achieve 80% through direct employees (50%) and Associates (30%), whereby Associates are dedicated contractors who work across our program portfolio, please can you confirm that this is acceptable and meets the minimum 80% that you require?
• To clarify, if suppliers can only achieve 50% employees, with the remainder as Associates, will that supplier’s response be considered?
The requirements are for the majority of resources deployed by the supplier under this contract to be direct employees of the supplier as detailed in response to Q16&17.

80% is the baseline we have set that we would like to see, however if bidders are unable to meet the 80% level they should state in their response the level they can achieve and how they will make up the remaining resource requirements. The response will still be considered and scored appropriately.
44. Has a Cloud Readiness/Economic Assessment been undertaken to date? If so, can the output be shared?
Each system and project are validated as part of the Defra Shaping and Demand process for economic viability and the Cloud Centre of Excellence Cloud On Boarding process to see if they are ready for the Public Cloud service and support