The National Archives

Alpha prototype development for the Access Your Records (AYR) Service at The National Archives

8 Incomplete applications

6 SME, 2 large

9 Completed applications

9 SME, 0 large

Important dates

Wednesday 14 September 2022
Deadline for asking questions
Wednesday 21 September 2022 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Wednesday 28 September 2022 at 11:59pm GMT


Off-payroll (IR35) determination
Contracted out service: the off-payroll rules do not apply
Summary of the work
We are looking for a supplier to design and architect the fundamental components of the Access Your Records Service for government users, through the development of functional Alpha prototype(s). We anticipate the supplier’s team will include skills in technical architecture, security engineering and software development. Full brief here:
Latest start date
Monday 10 October 2022
Expected contract length
4 months with optional extension of a further 2 months
No specific location, for example they can work remotely
Organisation the work is for
The National Archives
Budget range
It is estimated that the initial 4 months of work can be delivered within the budget range 4 months 175k – 190k ex. VAT

About the work

Why the work is being done
The National Archives (TNA) collects, preserves and provides access to public records created by UK government departments. Increasingly these are digital records. We do not currently have an effective or sustainable access service for digital records.
Currently, government users can access non-sensitive digital records via our online public access service (Discovery – primarily a catalogue of paper records) but for access to sensitive records they must visit in person to see records in a physical ‘invigilation room’. This is not scalable and does not offer a good user experience.
Government users need a service that provides timely, online, self-service access to the digital records they archive with us – this will be provided by the Access Your Records (AYR) service.
We have conducted a Discovery and initial Alpha phase to identify user needs for this service and develop and test wireframe prototypes. We now wish to identify and evaluate technical options, demonstrate technical feasibility and design a technical solution for implementation of the service.
Outputs will include a technical architecture diagram for the service and functional prototype(s) that demonstrate the technical feasibility of the proposed solution(s).
Problem to be solved
TNA has already developed a service that allows government users to upload records for transfer to TNA (the Transfer Digital Records (TDR) service). AYR needs to receive those records and provide access to them so that users retain access to their records following transfer.

We wish to develop and evaluate functional prototype(s) to design and validate a robust technical solution for the AYR service.

The technical problems that we’d like to solve include:
- user authentication across the TDR and AYR services
- security (of sensitive data and user information)
- access control for archived records
- search and browse based on user access privileges
- how the service should store and retrieve records

The following are also of interest:
- how to receive and make updates to records and metadata
- how to present records to the end user (render on screen or download)
- integration with the data pipeline service
Who the users are and what they need to do
The main users are:
• Government records teams who have transferred born digital records to TNA or are preparing to do so.
• Internal TNA teams that manage access to TNA’s digital records.
• Administrators of the AYR service.

We will aim to prototype key elements of two user journeys. Our government users will securely authenticate with the system and choose whether to (i) access a recently transferred record or (ii) find and access a previously transferred record.
We need to design (in priority order):

1. Authentication and user management:
• How users will securely authenticate with the service, providing a consistent (ideally seamless) experience for existing users of the transfer service.
• How we will set up new users and manage access for users who leave or move roles.
2. Access controls:
• How we will manage access control rules for records and metadata.
• How we will provide search and browse which are aware of access permissions for records and metadata.
3. Managing data:
• How the service will receive, store and load newly transferred records and metadata
• How the service will receive, store and load updates to records and metadata
Early market engagement
A previous DOS outcome covered user research and the development and testing of wireframe prototypes for the AYR service. Related services (Transfer - TDR, Data pipeline - TRE, Digital Preservation – DRI, Catalogue - Omega) are being developed in-house.
Any work that’s already been done
An initial Discovery/Alpha phase completed in March 2022 User research interviews were carried out to validate the need for an access service for government users and identify likely access scenarios, see: A set of wireframes for a proposed complete service were developed in Adobe XD and tested iteratively with a smaller number of government users.
This work will complete the Alpha phase, focusing on technical design and prototyping of two main user journeys. The aim of this phase is to demonstrate technical feasibility of the proposed service and make technology and architectural choices in preparation for Beta development.
Existing team
The supplier’s team will deliver the work in collaboration with TNA’s agile management team (Service Owner, Product Manager, and Delivery Manager). A technical architect and data engineer will be available to review proposed solutions. An in-house developer, user researcher and interaction designer may be available for consultation if required. We are in the process of recruiting software developers to the AYR team.
Senior stakeholders and colleagues working on TNA’s transfer service and data pipeline will be available for consultation.
The supplier may be expected to collaborate with external security assessors and staff working on related services.
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU. Occasional visits to our site at Kew, West London may be required.
Working arrangements
TNA staff will be available during the UK working day. The Product Manager and Delivery Manager will work with the supplier attending regular stand-ups and sprint planning. Meetings will take place via Microsoft Teams or Slack, which is also available for quick communication.
The supplier will provide their own equipment and technology and will have access to our GitHub, Jira, Slack and AWS resources as appropriate. The supplier will apply agile methodologies to scope, plan, and deliver work incrementally.
We need active communication, sprint reviews to seek stakeholder feedback, regular ‘show and tells’ to demonstrate progress to wider stakeholder groups.
Security clearance
Baseline clearance will be required (BPSS)

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions

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
  • Experience of technical architecture of robust, interoperable data services.
  • Experience of designing secure services featuring user authentication and fine-grained access controls.
  • Experience of documenting technical solutions so they can be further developed and maintained by others
  • Experience of integrating services within AWS.
  • Experience with TNA’s preferred technology stack: AWS, Django web framework, Python.
Nice-to-have skills and experience
Experience of working in contexts with complex security and data requirements.

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Outline your proposed approach to conducting the technical alpha phase in this outcome.
  • Describe the team and the mix of skills they will employ to deliver our outcome.
  • Give examples of your ability to work in an agile, iterative manner and evidence of successfully completing GDS Service Assessments.
Cultural fit criteria
  • Work collaboratively as ‘one team’ with our team.
  • Be transparent, open and honest.
  • Be curious, creative and constructively challenge pre-conceptions.
  • Share knowledge and experience with our team.
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Additional assessment methods
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. Hello, if possible, please let us know who conducted the discovery.
Please see the following link
2. The desired experience section states: “Experience with TNA’s preferred technology stack: AWS, Django web framework, Python.” Are you open to solutions developed in other technology stacks, such as Microsoft Azure and.NET?
No, since we have to consider matters such as ease of interoperability with other services and internal expertise for ongoing development, maintenance & support.

The deadline for asking questions about this opportunity was Wednesday 21 September 2022.