Home Office

Digital Services at the Border (DSAB) Support Services Capability for pilot phase (and beyond)

Incomplete applications

Incomplete applications
2 SME, 1 large

Completed applications

Completed applications
3 SME, 10 large
Important dates
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Published Tuesday 14 February 2017
Deadline for asking questions Tuesday 21 February 2017 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications Tuesday 28 February 2017 at 11:59pm GMT


Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Summary of the work Provision of a proactive, Gold standard 24x7 secure application support service at 2nd and optionally 3rd level as part of the support stack for a suite of new Border Crossing IT services. Team split between a supplier and the customer site. Big data, open source, cloud hosted technologies
Latest start date 1 May 2017
Expected contract length 1 year with the option to extend for up to 12 months
Location South East England
Organisation the work is for Home Office
Budget range

About the work

About the work
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Why the work is being done Digital Services at the Border (DSAB) is an agile programme within the Border Systems Portfolio that is building functionality to transform the way the Home Office manages Borders into the UK.

There are currently two services within DSAB; Border Crossing and AFTC, both in pilot phases and with more services planned. We require a 2nd line application support function, with an option to extend to 3rd line application support, to provide a highly available 24x7 gold standard of service to these critical projects.
Problem to be solved The Home Office require a 2nd, and an optional 3rd line, 24x7 support capability with elements running at both SECRET and OFFICIAL within the timescales required by the programme.

A partner is therefore sought who can stand up this service within the time constraints.
Who the users are and what they need to do As a Border Force officer at a UK port I need to be able to check the legality of passengers and freight attempting to enter the UK, day or night.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done The 2nd line support is being provided for the pilot phases by an external partner, with 3rd line support provided by internal Dev Ops teams.

The output of this phase has been the development of a number of support run books and also a stronger understanding of the tasks which the eventual support function should comprise.
Existing team The support stack combines new in-house support capabilities with some components serviced by external partners.

The immediate interfaces for the 2nd line support service will be the current existing service desk for 1st line support and the Home Office internal IAAS teams, security and platform services for 3rd line support.
Current phase Beta

Work setup

Work setup
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Address where the work will take place The primary work site will be central Croydon at the Home Office Campus site (Lunar House, Apollo House and Metro Point).

The supplier will be required to provide a secondary site for 24x7 resources.

The secondary site must be on the UK mainland and ways of working must be in place to allow for a free exchange of information between the teams. It is therefore assumed, although not compulsory, that the sites would be a maximum of 50 miles apart to allow for travel between the sites.
Working arrangements 24x7x365 team at supplier’s own location following runbook type activity - monitor applications, investigate incidents and problems, plan changes and fixes.

Smaller team on site with programme team, working hours only, to increase depth of knowledge, discuss service improvements, arrange change windows, attend Agile daily stand-ups and other team meetings, take an active part in the project in order to continually improve the service.

Regular transfer of knowledge between teams, either with rotation of staff between sites or on-site staff spending 1-2 days per week at supplier location.
Security clearance Home Office SC required for all staff.
The Home Office can sponsor applications for staff without current clearance.

Additional information

Additional information
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
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.

Skills and experience
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Essential skills and experience
  • Have experience of providing ITIL based 2nd line support for a critical application
  • Be able to provide a UK location suitable for securing to SECRET level and suitable for 24x7 working
  • Have a workforce with technical skills •Linux • Java •Hadoop and big data technologies • Monitoring tools ELK and Sysdifg• Cloud hosting technologies
  • Have a workforce which is UK based and capable of being security cleared to Home Office SC.
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • 1. Evidence a strong service culture with service improvement central to operations
  • 2. Provide an example of a similar service already in place
  • 3. Mobilise a workforce with experience of more than 5 of the following - InformaticaBDRM •Docker •Kubernetes •Postgres •Forgerock •Vault •Yaml •Rest/Json • ServiceNow

How suppliers will be evaluated

How suppliers will be evaluated
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
How many suppliers to evaluate 5
Proposal criteria
  • • Service solution for 2nd line application support
  • • Approach and methodology
  • • Proposed location
  • • Team structure
  • • How the approach or solution meets the cultural challenge
  • • Estimated timeframes for the work
  • • Risks and dependencies and approaches to manage them
  • • Example of a similar contract successfully delivered
  • • How the service would be scaled to extend to further DSAB services
  • Ability to stand up a 3rd line application support service is of interest and should be included within the proposal as a costed option.
Cultural fit criteria
  • 1. Strong pro-active approach to incident and problem management, CSI, striving to improve
  • 2. Learning culture, encouraging training to expand skill-sets.
Payment approach Fixed price
Assessment methods
  • Written proposal
  • Case study
  • Work history
  • Reference
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

Questions asked by suppliers
Supplier question Buyer answer
1. Is there any more information available on the estate which is to be supported, along with information to help us understand the scale of the service which needs to be provided? Information on both the Border crossing and the AFTC services will be provided as part of the detailed information to inform the proposal stage, once suppliers have been down selected.
2. The budget range field in the digital outcomes listing is not populated, is this intentional or are you able to provide this information? The expectation is that there will be a gradual increase in services costs during over the initial stages of delivery of live services by Border Crossing and AFTC.

Anticipated spend in the second year for 2nd Line Support would be approx £3m following the completion of the National Roll out programme during 2018.
3. What is the expected number of tickets per month? There is potential for the number of tickets to reach 200 per month during the National Roll out of the services. The service requirement however is for a 'zero tolerance' approach to incidents.

A proactive and on-going approach focused on eliminating the causes of incidents either through direct action or by making recommendations for changes is our preferred approach.
4. What response times are required? Can the Authority define the SLAs for the service? The response times are expected to be: P1 - 2 hours, P2 - 4 hours, P3 - 12 hours, P4 - 48 hours. This is subject to confirmation prior to contract award.

If the ratified numbers vary then an opportunity will be provided to adjust responses to reflect these changes.
5. What are the Authorities expectation of Gold standard? Does the authority wish to see levels of support standard i.e. Gold, silver, bronze? The term "Gold Standard" has been used to denote that the business requirement is for the highest standard of support which demonstrates a strong and proactive drive to continually improve, really understand and eliminate any incidents which occur, demonstrable left move of support activity, looking to get each action right first time. The Service provider should be, not just technically competent, but able to show a demonstrable passion for service and have similarly committed resources.
6. Would the Authority consider teams on site in other government locations, for example, Sheffield? The key factor is that ways of working are defined which allow for a continual flow of information from the Dev Ops teams in Croydon. The support team needs to continue to learn, pick up more support tasks, identify & propose improvements, feel they are part of the delivery team. One approach would be a small team of staff co-working with DevOps and rotating to work with the second line support team, this would be assisted by a close geographical location. However we are open to any proposals, such as technology based solutions, which achieve the same outcomes.
7. What standards are the Authority applying to minimum requirements for a Secret and Official operational environment and infrastructure? We have separate Official and Secret environments, which comply with CESG   (NCSC) Architecture Patterns and HMG Standards.e.g. Walled Garden for Remote Access and also End User Device. Our designs and builds are also reviewed by CESG Security Architects.
8. What issues has the Authority experienced with their current external partner providing Level 2 support? Whilst the Authority is working with an external partner to assist with early life support, these are new services and this contract has not previously been awarded.
9. Is the Level 2 support provider expected to manage the third parties “servicing” those components that they are providing, or will they be managed directly by the Client? The Level 2 support provider will not have management responsibilities for any other parties, internal or external.
10. Where are required levels of support defined? Support levels will be provided in the detailed service requirements, which will inform the proposal stage for the down selected suppliers.
11. At what stage does the Authority see a transition to Level 3 support? The Home Office wish to retain flexibility regarding the provision of Level 3 support. It is anticipated that should a decision be made to be take up the option of working with an external supplier rather than continuing in-house with the Dev Ops teams, this would take place very quickly after the Level 2 support was awarded.
12. Would the authority consider an integrated customer and supplier team covering Level 2 support and DevOps? Yes.
13. Can you please outline your procurement process plan including the date when suppliers will be informed if they have been short listed for the next stage and the timelines/milestones for that stage. This request is to facilitate our own planning, should we be short listed. Thank you. 28 February closing date for DOS, - approx 5 working days to evaluate and shortlist suppliers 7 March issue shortlist suppliers detailed requirements document and allow three weeks for proposals to be returned. 28 March Proposals returned - approx 5 working days for review of proposals and request clarification presentations w/c3 April (or w/c 10 April if necessary) to enable evaluations to be completed by 21 April (allowing for Easter). Award recommendation report for approval and completion of contract documentation to enable award of contract to be achieved on or before 1 May.
14. Can you confirm which, if any, existing wide area networks you would expect us to connect to? The Home Office WAN would be extended as necessary to the Supplier site in order to provide access to the IT service management tool and to the DSAB Border Crossing and AFTC systems.
15. Can you confirm that the May 1st date is the Effective Date of the contract, i.e. contract signing? The 1st May date is the anticipated date of contract signature, to be followed by a subsequent period of time to enable a new supplier to carry out knowledge transfer activities and ensure a minimum number of security cleared staff were available for service activities to commence.
16. Can you confirm that the 1st year Support will start after Knowledge Transfer and not at the Effective Date? That would be dependent on the time-scales anticipated for Knowledge Transfer and the availability of a small core team of appropriately cleared resources.