National Offender Management Service (Ministry of Justice)

Assisted Prison Visits Scheme- Payments System

Incomplete applications

Incomplete applications

Completed applications

Completed applications
13 SME, 7 large
Important dates
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Published Tuesday 31 May 2016
Deadline for asking questions Tuesday 7 June 2016 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications Tuesday 14 June 2016 at 11:59pm GMT


Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Summary of the work Working with NOMS/MOJ to deliver a digital payment management service which enables the Assisted Prison Visits Scheme (APVS) to more effectively and efficiently provide financial assistance to prisoners’ close relatives, partners or sole visitors.
Latest start date 31/06/2016
Expected contract length
Location London
Organisation the work is for National Offender Management Service (Ministry of Justice)
Budget range

About the work

About the work
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Why the work is being done The Assisted Prison Visits Scheme (APVS) provides a digital service that provides financial assistance to prisoners’ close relative, partners or sole visitors who meet the qualifying criteria. The current system is manual and heavily people centric, costly and leads to delays in processing claims. Supporting technology is dated and prone to failure, as well as the current mechanism of using GIRO cheques for payment only available until March 2017.
Problem to be solved The system is in urgent need of an efficient and reliable replacement. Issues such as ease of use, convenience and accessibility need to be addressed. NOMS require an APVS replacement to be running and ready for use end of February 2017 in order for an efficient handover to take place.
NOMS would like to conduct this work in two phases:

- Phase 1: Confirmation of Discovery outputs, clarification of requirements and production of detailed plan for implementation of APVS replacement

- Phase 2: Implementation of the solution to the agreed plan with a delivery date of end of February 2017
Who the users are and what they need to do As an internal APVS user, I need to be able to:
- record, assess and manage claims, so that the right recipients receive the correct payment
- check with the Department for Work and Pensions that applicants are eligible for assistance, so that the right people receive payment
- pay the funds directly into the recipient's bank/building society account and be able to track the process, so that errors can be avoided
As an applicant, I want the process to be simple, convenient and easily accessible.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done Discovery business analysis has been undertaken and a document has been produced that will be available for review during Phase 1.
Existing team - Head of APVU, acting as Service Manager/Business Lead
- NOMS Digital & Change Demand Manager, acting as Product Manager
- Various other in-house technical/business stakeholders
Current phase Discovery

Work setup

Work setup
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Address where the work will take place Based in or around Birmingham with regular visits to London HQ/Based in or around London with regular visits to Birmingham
Working arrangements The supplier will be expected to work onsite for Phase 1, so as to have face to face engagement with the business while confirming Discovery outputs - during which time the working arrangements for Phase 2 delivery & implementation will be agreed.
Security clearance SC Clearance is required, and due to the urgency of the requirement, ideally should be already in place.

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
  • Be capable of delivering in an Agile manner and have awareness of/worked to GDS design principals.
  • Have knowledge and experience of API and batch facility development.
  • Have knowledge and experience of database integration.
  • Have knowledge and experience of payment gateway integration and transactions.
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Have knowledge of the Santander GIRO cheque system.
  • Have knowledge and experience using database intelligence software such as DataAccess, DataFlex, Datapump.

How suppliers will be evaluated

How suppliers will be evaluated
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
How many suppliers to evaluate 3
Proposal criteria
  • The proposed technical solution
  • The proposed approach and methodology
  • How the approach or solution meets NOMS/MOJ policies and goals
  • Estimated timeframes for work
  • How suppliers have identified risks and dependencies, and offered approaches to manage them
  • Team structure
  • Value for money of the proposal
  • Ability to deliver in an Agile manner to GDS principles
Cultural fit criteria
  • Have knowledge or awareness of Government systems, for examples the Prison Service, Justice, DWP etc.
  • Ability to work with users at all levels
  • Ability to deliver in an Agile manner to GDS principals
  • Ability to work with co-located teams in multiple locations
Payment approach Capped time and materials
Assessment methods
  • Written proposal
  • Case study
  • Reference
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

Questions asked by suppliers
Supplier question Buyer answer
1. Please can you forward details of the planned phone conference for Monday 6th June. The Question & Answer session will be held via telephone conference, details as below:

Monday 6th June
12.30 - 13.30
Dial in: 0800 917 1956
Participant number: 66237841#
2. In the event that a company wishes to use external consultants for a particular job position, should they be contracted by the company as freelancers? The selected company, as prime contractor, will be responsible for the delivery of the outcome. As a prime contractor it is your responsibility to manage your supply chain, whether external consultants be working with you as freelancers, affiliates or subcontractors. As such, third party responsibility will be that of the prime contractor alone. All consultants must be security cleared to a minimum of CTC level.
3. We are interested and will have 1 or 2 people on the call on Monday. Is there anything else that we need to do at this stage? Monday's session is to allow all interested parties to ask questions in more of a discussion format- all questions and answers will also be published online, however answers will be more concise and may contain less detail. Preparation of questions is recommended, as Suppliers will not be able to submit questions after Tuesday 7th, but there are no requirements for the session.
4. "Ability to deliver in an Agile manner to GDS principals" has been listed twice- once in Essentials skills and once in Cultural fit. Will this be evaluated in both sections? 'Ability to deliver in an Agile manner to GDS principals' was duplicated in error. Subsequently, this criteria WILL be used when evaluating essential skills, and WILL NOT be used when evaluating cultural fit.
5. ANSWER RETRACTION FOR PREVIOUS QUESTION- "Ability to deliver in an Agile manner to GDS principals" has been listed twice- once in Essentials skills and once in Cultural fit. Will this be evaluated in both sections? CORRECT ANSWER, PLEASE DISREGARD PREVIOUS- 'Ability to deliver in an Agile manner to GDS principals' was duplicated in error. Subsequently, this criteria WILL NOT be used when evaluating essential skills, and WILL be used when evaluating cultural fit.
6. What are the procurement timescales you are working towards? Suppliers must answer the online application questions and provide a written summary proposal for the 14th of June. Additional details are provided below.
Applications will be assessed on the 15th of June and we aim to notify shortlisted suppliers immediately (17th June latest).
We will host a presentation day on the 24th of June for shortlisted suppliers at London HQ for an hour proposal presentation session. Additional details are provided below.
We will notify the chosen supplier on the 27th of June, with a contract start date of 4th July. Shortlisted suppliers must be available/contactable for clarification until supplier selection.
7. What are the Commercial impacts of the limited time frame? The chosen supplier must be aware of the time constraints impacting commercial negotiation and aim to assist the Authority to the best of their ability by ensuring they are available and contactable from notification of award to contract start date. Shortlisted suppliers should include in their presentation proposal how they will overcome the possible issues caused by a short turnaround period between notification and contract start date.
8. Is this project associated with the Visits Booking project? No, the APVU Payment System is not associated with this project.
9. How does the new system need to differ to the existing system? The current system is a manual system reliant on paper based forms and manual processing. There is an old legacy database which is manually updated, and it is suggested that data may be migrated from this. We are looking to streamline, improve and digitise the system into a less paper based, less manual reliant and faster system that can pay directly into claimant’s bank accounts.
10. What will Stage 1 include? Stage 1 is for the chosen supplier to familiarise themselves with the business need, refine high level requirements with the team and gain all information necessary to produce an in depth proposal for Stage 2. The level of necessary discussion and interaction with the team means that the supplier will need to be onsite for the majority of this phase.
11. How large will the dedicated team be? Supply side, we have no minimum number restriction on the size of the contracted team. Business side, there will be 3-4 main business contacts, as well as interaction with our Digital team.
12. Will one supplier complete both phases? Yes, the chosen supplier will perform both Phases of the project.
13. Price is being evaluated- will this be cost for both phases? We are aware that due to the format of this project, and that Phase 2 is dependent on the outcomes of Phase 1, it is difficult for suppliers to provide a definitive quote for the entire project. Bearing this in mind, we expect Phase 1 to be priced using capped time and materials for a 3-4 week period, and a ROM cost to be provided for the 7-8 month Phase 2. Suppliers must provide an accurate breakdown of their Phase 2 ROM cost. The proposal produced during Phase 1 is expected to include a final costing for Phase 2.
14. Is the prime location Birmingham or London? The APVU team are based in Birmingham, and the Digital team based in London. Travel between the cities is required.
15. Will Phase 2 need to be performed on site? Phase 2 does not necessarily need to be performed on site, however regular check in meetings with the team need to be scheduled.
16. Are suppliers required to use any preferred technology? We have no preference to the software used by suppliers. The current solution uses Dataflex, and during discovery Datapump was looked at, although experience with either is not required.
17. Will there be engagement with DWP? We are currently looking to have a DWP representative on the project board and participating with the actual project. DWP input is expected for this project.
18. Is there a NOMS digital team dedicated to this project? Currently we have a MoJ digital team working on projects within this division. However, internal resource is limited, hence the need to outsource this project. Regular interaction and advice is expected of the MoJ Digital team during this project, however due to workload it may not be extensive.
19. Who undertook the discovery work? Discovery work was undertaken by an internal team within the business.
20. Can you provide some further detail about the current system and its usage? The current system receives approximately 86,000 applications on behalf of around 250,000 prison visitors a year. Roughly 64,000 of these applications are successful. The existing system is around 20 years old, and operates a 28 day turnaround time between application and benefit receipt. Applications are submitted via a paper based form found online, and approximately 1200 cheques are sent per week.
The current system makes payments in advance of visits, which is undesirable, and results in many cancellations occurring once the benefit has been received.
21. What needs to be included in the summary proposal? A summary proposal needs to be provided by the closing date of the 14th of June. This proposal must provide sufficient information about the approach, technologies proposed and plan as well as a summary of work history and references. It will be instrumental when selecting shortlisted suppliers. Please send summary proposals to
22. What needs to be included in the proposal presentation? Shortlisted suppliers will be required to provide a presentation which should focus on their technical competence, as specified in the proposal criteria. We will also be looking at the cultural fit and how the supplier plans to work with us, undertake the development and ensure that there are rapid, iterative quick wins.
The supplier needs to demonstrate they are capable of meeting the required start date, and outline how they will overcome the possible commercial issues caused by a short turnaround period between notification and contract start date.
Presentations need to include work history, references and an in-depth proposal.
23. What work has been done during Discovery? The output of the discovery phase is a document that will be shared during Stage 1. The questions below contain some of the information from the paper.
24. What benefits might be delivered by this solution? A new digital service will lead to reductions in processing times
• Users will find it easier to fill in a digital form
• A digital service will remove some existing risks due to technology and manual processing
• A digital service could be modified to meet wider changes in business processes and user needs
• A new digital service could provide additional Management Information
25. What tools/systems might be adopted within a digital solution? Without constraining alternative options/innovative solutions, we anticipate that developing a digital service might include the following tools/systems:
• A web based platform applicants can log onto, fill in an application, attach necessary forms of evidence, and track the status of their application.
• A case management system with which the web based platform integrates. The system will be used for recording/managing applications.
• The ability to utilise the following existing third party systems for other parts of the service:
o Santander’s existing portal for making bank transfers online.
o Redfern’s existing online portal for sending details of train/travel tickets.
26. Can you provide some more information about the work done to date? A pre-discovery analysis of the APU service has been undertaken to identify how a digital service might be able to help the scheme meet its goals, deliver savings, and most importantly, eliminate the level of risk at which the scheme is currently operating. It also assessed the options and technology that might exist for implementing such a service.
Further details are provided below.
27. Who are the users of this service? The users of this service are prisoners’ close relatives, partners or sole visitors who believe they meet the qualifying rules for receiving assistance for making a prison visit.
28. What are the processes? High level business process flows have been developed. The key stages are:
a. The Visitor User makes an application which includes all key personal details as well as other eligibility information (notices, health certificates (proof of their eligibility), receipts, and/or a stamped confirmation of visit forms).
b. Application is processed by APVU (manual entry of information and confirmation of eligibility by DWP).
c. Application is assessed by caseworkers (based on eligibility, distance travelled and special circumstances).
d. Once a decision has been made, a payment will be arranged, either in the form of a giro-cheque/provision of tickets for travel/both.
29. What tools/systems are currently used? Applications are uploaded and managed via the 20 year old database. It supports the following areas of functionality:
• Manual entry of information (doesn't support automated data entry/direct interface with other systems (e.g. DWP systems for checking benefit details)).
• Some functionality for claims management (caseworkers can view information and log decisions).
• Printing of giro-cheques (eliminated the need for cash payments at time of its introduction).
• Generates benefit check forms which are posted to DWP.
• Generates Management Information (amount/quality of information is considered inadequate).
Travel tickets are arranged through a contract with Redfern, through an online portal.
30. What technology might be adopted? We have consider three options of building a bespoke product, configuring an off-the-shelf product, or configuring an existing technical solution that is already used elsewhere in MOJ/across government. Following validation of the pre-discovery activity, a decision will be made on the basis of which option best delivers user needs, as well as other considerations such as costs, savings and wider benefits. Any public facing part of the solution should conform to design patterns.
31. What is the deadline time for the submission of the summary proposal? The summary proposal needs to be submitted to the following address- As we are aware of the limited amount of time suppliers have been given to prepare a summary proposal, we have taken a more lenient approach and will not be enforcing a submission time. Summary proposals need to have been sent to and received by the above address in time for 9am Wednesday 15th June. The latest submission time accepted is 11am, but Suppliers MUST make the Authority aware if they plan to utilise the extra time via email.
32. URGENT UPDATE TO ABOVE QUESTION: What is the deadline time for the submission of the summary proposal? Due to an unexpected diary change, the APVU Shortlisting meeting has had to be pushed back to Thursday 16th June.

As we are aware of the limited amount of time suppliers have been given to prepare a summary proposal, we have extended the deadline for summary proposal submission.
Summary proposals must be sent to and received by this address by 9am Thursday 16th June.

We look forward to receiving your proposals and hope that you are able to meet this extended deadline.