This opportunity is closed for applications

The deadline was Thursday 29 December 2016
Foreign and Commonwealth Office

FCO Posts Hub

0 Incomplete applications

19 Completed applications

14 SME, 5 large

Important dates

Thursday 15 December 2016
Deadline for asking questions
Thursday 22 December 2016 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Thursday 29 December 2016 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
Help the FCO develop a single source of truth for information about our offices around the world, structuring the data and making it available via an API and other views. Contribute to the FCO's software capital by extending our current Crisis Hub software.
Latest start date
ASAP, aiming to deliver some releaseable software on or before March 31 2017.
Expected contract length
Initially until March 31, with a possible extension into the next FY.
Organisation the work is for
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Budget range
This is a medium-sized piece of work and we expect a limit will be in how quickly a supplier can spin up a team this financial year. We would therefore like suppliers to tell us how many sprints work they can realistically do before the end of the financial year and how much that will cost.

Please also supply a cost / sprint of the team proposed, in case we are able to continue the work into the next financial year.

We will give you as much notice as possible of what the situation next FY is.

About the work

Why the work is being done
The FCO has data about its offices around the world (known as 'posts') which it publishes in locations inside and outside the FCO: egs consulate addresses, opening hours, and services provided. There is no single source of truth, so when opening hours change, an officer needs to update this in several places. Data is both public and private.

This work is:
collate and structure the data
make it available via an API and other appropriate views - for examples, maps or SVG.

We have guaranteed funding until March 31; if we are able to get funding the work will continue
Problem to be solved
The work will increase the productivity of our staff who will only have to edit the data in one place, and increase the quality of information available to users.

There are around 15 separate data stores including documents like 'Post reports' and 'post factsheets.'. We don't expect all sources to be ingested and availble before March 31 so expect a continuing backlog which will tackle if funds are available.
Who the users are and what they need to do
As a user of GOV.UK, I need to have accurate information about when a consulate it open so I know when I can arrive there.
As an FCO staff member, I need to update information about my post just once so that I can do more productive things with my life.
As a diplomat looking for my next job, I need a searchable database of posts so that I judge the quality of education available.
As an manager, I need to see which posts offer a particular consular service so I can cover a post which is temporarily unavailable.
Early market engagement
We have spoken to one company which has previously worked on our preexisting software Crisis Hub (see below). We have used this to develop these requirements and to get a ballpark figure of costs.
Any work that’s already been done
The FCO has some pre-existing software, Crisis Hub and some linked software Contact Hub, which we would like to use as the basis for this development. This contains a database and uses an internal API for displaying data, but does not yet have an external API.

We have already completed a discovery phase which has produced this Schedule of Works.
Existing team
The FCO will supply a service owner and product manager and we invite suppliers to suggest the correct team to fulfill the requirements.
The FCO has an incumbent supplier of dev ops to the Crisis Hub software, and this work will need to be handed over to them at the end of the project.
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
The majority of the work will take place in King Charles Street, London. The role is likely to involve some travel to the FCO's office in Milton Keynes.
Working arrangements
Ideally the team will be colocated with the FCO so that we can have a fully functioning agile team: some members of the FCO team will be able to visit suppliers premises, but the Service Owner is unlikely to be able to. We will consider some workers not being on site if suppliers can convince us of how this will work. However, we have a preference for colocation.
Security clearance
All staff on site will need Security Clearance. We are still checking the details but understand that any staff members who will see live data will need Direct Vetting.

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
We would like to be billed on a per-sprint basis, at the end of each sprint.

All intellectual property will be retained by the FCO and all code should be stored and developed on FCO repositories.

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 details of your experience in delivering different Presentation layer's - e.g: CSS for responsive design) - 10%
  • Provide details of your experience in delivering different Application layer's - e.g. Java - Jboss/Tomcat, SOLR - search platform - 10%
  • Provide details of your experience in delivering different Data layer's - e.g. PostGreSQL, NoSQL - MongoDB - 10%
  • Provide details of your experience in delivering different Deployment Services - e.g. Puppet - Config management - 10%
  • Provide details of your experience in delivering different Continuous integration technologies - e.g. GitHub - code repository and Jira/Confluence - Agile scrum board and backlog management/ Project Wiki - 10%
Nice-to-have skills and experience

How suppliers will be evaluated

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Technical Solution
  • Cultural Fit
  • Value for Money
  • Meet timescales
  • Approach and methodology
Cultural fit criteria
  • Provide evidence of how you meet customers requirements in working on site - 8%
  • Demonstrate experience of working as a team with our/other organisations and other suppliers in an Agile manner - in helping clients with backlog refinement and prioritisation decisions - 7%
  • Demonstrate ability to add value - we welcome good ideas from our suppliers (5%)
Payment approach
Fixed price
Assessment methods
Written proposal
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. With a view to getting started quickly we'd ideally like to bring in people with Basic Disclosure Scotland / BPSS, and have you sponsor SC once they are on board. Will FCO be happy to sponsor the SC application process for members of the successful team, or would all team members be required to have SC before they can start?
Suppliers are welcome to propose how they would staff their team and work with us; this is one of our cultural fit criteria. However, to give some guidance, unfortunately BPSS level clearance would be extremely difficult to incorporate in-house; FCO offices are secure buildings and BPSS cleared staff would need to be accompanied everywhere and have an FCO staff member with them at all times. So while in general we are happy to sponsor people through SC clearance, unfortunately, on a short contract like this one, we will need to weigh our assessment towards the most practical team.
2. Do you expect this opportunity to fall under the proposed changes to off payroll working within the Public Sector, and will you be deducting tax at source?
We had intended this to go through a standard digital outcomes call off contract and follow the procedures there. If suppliers have a particular preference they are welcome to tell us and we will assess it in consultation with the Crown Commercial Service. Maybe you could provide some further clarity on what is required from the FCO with this question?
3. Dear Sir/Madam, You mention Crisis Hub and Contact Hub should be used as a basis for this project. Does this mean we need to extend the codebase to add this new functionality, or make a clone of the codebase and work from this? It also sounds like there is a requirement to work in a specific programming language for the application layer and data layer. Can you confirm what this is. Or are we free to develop this application in the Open Source technology stack of our choice? best wishes, Simon
We certainly see the work as being an extension of the crisis and contact hub software: we would therefore expect the supplier to work in the technologies already utilised.

Apologies, the technical layers are marked as ‘eg’, but in fact the technologies listed are the examples used in the contact and crisis hub and suppliers will need experience in these.
4. Dear Sir/Madam, You note: We would like to be billed on a per-sprint basis, at the end of each sprint. We normally bill a deposit at the start of the project followed by staged payments (which could be at the end of each sprint). Are you open to this approach? best wishes, Simon
5. Dear Sir/Madam, Do you have any idea on the length of time for each sprint (e.g. two weeks)? Also, I presume the supplier will need to provide a project manager capable of running an agile project. Or is this a role you plan to supply?
We would normally expect a sprint to be 2 weeks long, but if a supplier has a reason for a different sprint length they are welcome to propose something different along with their reasons for it.
6. Is it a requirement that staff working on the project are already have "Direct Vetting" security clearance in place? Our team does not currently have this, can you indicate where we can find out more about this.
No, as per the security clearance section, staff working on the project only require security clearance unless they are going to see live data. We will work with suppliers and security advisors to ensure that non-DV cleared staff do not see live data.

Apologies, this should have read ‘Developed Vetting’ – more information can be found at
7. Can you please provide some indication of what would be your expectation of team size and structure. There is little in the notice to help us quantify the scale of resource required.
Different suppliers have in the past offered different team sizes and makeups and we don’t want to prescribe how best to deliver the outcome. Furthermore, we are aware that we are asking for a team at short notice and need suppliers to be honest about what is possible. However, to be as clear as we can, this is a medium-sized bit of software and we do expect a full agile team to analyse, test, and develop the work.
8. Provide details of how you would like the response reformatted and the length of response.
The FCO are looking for honest responses (in terms of staff availability, costs and quality of delivery). In terms of format, please provide:

• Up to 200 words for each response related to your technical and cultural fit.

• For the team make-up, 2 pages maximum will suffice – please ensure that you provide details of:

- short work history for each team member;

- details of team make-up you propose to do the work (for example, developer number's, their skillsets etc) and if this changes over the project timeline;

- If you can name staff, URL’s previously worked on.
9. Provide details of when you would like responses to be received.
Responses are required by Thursday 29 December (in accordance with the Digital Outcomes guidelines). It is possible that suppliers may be asked to provide further details of their proposals (in a short 45 minute call) on Thursday 5 January, with the final decision being made on Friday 6 January.
10. Grateful for further details on the mapping elements of this requirement.
The mapping software already exists. On the to-do list but not a must have requirement. Solution shall filter data off an API.

The mapping solution is based on OpenStreetMap, with MapQuest and the Leaflet js library.
11. Am I right to confirm that data shall require moving to a new environment.
Data is already available in different forms and different places. Data needs to be extracted into Post Hub and then linked back to Crisis/Contact Hubs (where some of the date already exists). The FCO require one version of the truth, as data is stored in different places and in different formats.
12. Are there any further details regarding the Discovery Phase? For example has a product backlog been prepared? How are the GOV.UK aspects of the service being assessed against the GDS Service Design Standard?
We have scoped the range of data to be incorporated in the development, but this has not been turned into a formal product backlog yet. Changes to GOV.UK are out of scope of the project. The project is an enabling one that would open up the data to allow for updates to GOV.UK, but does not involve making any changes to public facing sites as part of this project.
13. You mention a requirement for an “external API” , please could you clarify if it is planned that this interface will be available to the public developer community?
We are looking for an API that exposes public data to the public developer community. This should follow GDS standards for APIs. We also want private data to be available through an API with appropriate security controls. This would be subject to relevant security sign off.
14. Please could you confirm email address details for submitting written proposals.
Please send written proposals to