Awarded to Difrent

Start date: Wednesday 26 December 2018
Value: £500,000
Company size: SME
Ministry of Justice (MoJ) / Her Majesty's Prison & Probation Service (HMPPS)

Through the Gate - Digital Service

20 Incomplete applications

18 SME, 2 large

43 Completed applications

27 SME, 16 large

Important dates

Wednesday 3 October 2018
Deadline for asking questions
Wednesday 10 October 2018 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Wednesday 17 October 2018 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
We need an experienced Supplier to undertake important work understanding complex user needs and delivering quality digital solutions to support Prison Leavers during their integral transition back into the community. We aim to develop a quality service that improves rehabilitation success, reduces re-offending, and adds business value by increasing efficiency.
Latest start date
Monday 19 November 2018
Expected contract length
Yorkshire and the Humber
Organisation the work is for
Ministry of Justice (MoJ) / Her Majesty's Prison & Probation Service (HMPPS)
Budget range
Through the Gate has a budget of up to £500,000.

About the work

Why the work is being done
The MoJ wish to better support Prison Leavers integrating back into the community. HMPPS Digital would like to engage with a capable Supplier to assist on an important piece of work to develop a detailed understanding of user needs, and where appropriate, recommend and develop prototype services. Through the Gate aims to discover, assess, recommend, and develop solutions to support Prison Leavers during their integral transition back into the community, improving their prospects of success and reducing the likelihood of re-offending.
Problem to be solved
Integration back into the community can be a challenging process. Prison Leavers often face a range of complex problems, ranging from finance and benefits to family, housing, addiction and mental health, and struggle to access the support services that are available. Work needs to be done to better understand the problems Prison Leavers face, to assess the available services and identify gaps, and, if appropriate, develop a digital service that increases the efficiency and quality of the support that is available.
Who the users are and what they need to do
As a Prison Leaver I need the ability to manage my transition into the community easily and efficiently, so that I can focus on successful rehabilitation.
To achieve this, I need services to be clear and easy to use where I can manage or gain guidance around Access to Money, Benefits, Housing, Family, Mental Health Services, Bank Account, Anger Management Services, and Drug and Alcohol Addiction Services.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
HMPPS Digital have engaged in some pre-discovery work surveying service users, holding workshops with Nation Probation Service (NPS) and Community Rehabilitation Centre (CRC) colleagues. We have identified the key themes we wish to explore in discovery as:
- Access to Money
- Benefits
- Housing
- Family
- Mental Health Services
- Bank Account
- Anger Management Services
- Drug & Alcohol Addiction Services
Existing team
The team will be working with the Through the Gate Service Owner, and will be supported by the wider HMPPS Digital Studio.
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
The primary site is the HMPPS Digital Studio in Sheffield. The secondary site is the MoJ in London.
Working arrangements
The team are expected to be on-site for a minimum of 3 days a week, at either the prime site (preferred) or secondary site. The team will likely be required to travel for research visits/stakeholder engagement sessions held at other UK sites. HMPPS Digital wish to promote unity between internal colleagues and external teams, and so expect the team to understand and engage with our local culture and ways of working. The team should work alongside our Hosting & Support teams, API Development Teams, and Leadership teams, and work to the professional standards set by our Heads of Profession.
Security clearance
BPSS (Baseline Personnel Security Standard)

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
  • Demonstrable experience, within the last 2 years, of working in line with GDS Service Standards.
  • Significant demonstrable experience, within the last 2 years, of conducting user research.
  • Significant demonstrable experience, within the last 2 years, of conducting usability testing.
  • Significant demonstrable experience, within the last 2 years, of conducting user research and usability testing with users with accessibility and assisted digital needs.
  • Demonstrable experience, within the last 2 years, of where you have delivered service progression by identifying opportunities to improve outcomes and deliver business value.
  • Demonstrable experience, within the last 2 years, of rapid prototype development and iteration based on ongoing user research.
  • Demonstrable experience, within the last 2 years, of developing and testing technical feasibility of prototypes in Alpha.
  • Demonstrable experience, within the last 2 years, of delivering high quality content and information architecture design for complex user journeys across multiple touch-points that meet user and business needs.
  • Demonstrable experience, within the last 2 years, of working with complex systems.
  • Demonstrable experience, within the last 2 years, of working with vulnerable users.
  • Demonstrable experience, within the last 2 years, of experience working with service providers.
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Demonstrable experience, within the last 2 years, of leading the coaching, mentoring and up-skilling of clients in agile techniques.
  • Demonstrable experience, within the last 2 years, of where you successfully delivered high impact, visually engaging findings.
  • Demonstrable experience, within the last 2 years, of successfully taking services through GDS Service Assessment.
  • Demonstrable experience, within the last 2 years, of using Gov.Uk Service Design tools.

How suppliers will be evaluated

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Proposed Design Solution, supported by examples of recent experience working on digital projects that met user needs and demonstrate knowledge of GDS Digital Standards.
  • Proposed Approach & Methodology, support by examples of recent experience that demonstrate a solid understanding of Agile core principles, and how these were applied.
  • How the proposed approach meets user needs, supported by examples of recent experience where you've tested design hypotheses through prototyping in Alpha, and iterated these designs to develop user needs.
  • Proposed Project Plan, including team structure that provides justification for each team member, an activity timeline, a plan for GDS assessment including attendance and success criteria, and key deliverables.
  • Explain your proposed approach to identifying and managing risk within this project, supported by examples of recent experience where you have managed risk within similar projects.
Cultural fit criteria
  • Provide an example, within the last 2 years, where you have worked collaboratively in a multi-disciplinary team with other organisations, e.g other government organisations.
  • Provide an example, within the last 2 years, where you were successful in quickly joining a team and understanding user needs, to maintain continuity between existing discovery work and alpha.
  • Provide an example, within the last 2 years, where you have worked with existing systems, including government platforms if applicable, to develop new services.
  • Provide an example, within the last 2 years, where you have successfully integrated agile working into a traditional governance model.
  • Please provide examples of ways of working and cultural values you'd bring to the team.
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Assessment methods
  • Written proposal
  • Case study
  • Work history
  • Reference
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

We are holding our Q&A session on Tuesday 9th October at 10am, open to all interested Suppliers. The call will begin a few minutes after 10, to allow time for all attendees to join and to hopefully avoid disruption.
The session will be hosted by the Commercial Lead and the Service Manager, and we will try to answer as many questions as we're able. Please note that all questions and answers will be logged and published.
3. Please could you confirm if there is a supplier briefing session/call for this opportunity; and if so, please may we have the details to enable us to attend?
See below conference call details, which should be visible on the opportunity page, and also the previous QA.

Tuesday 9th October, 10:00 - 10:30.
Conference Call
PHONE: 08009171956 CODE: 66237841#
4. We cannot access the Google Docs link, please could you provide the information in a different format?
The sharing permissions should allow anyone with the link to view the document without the need to sign-in, however if you continue to have an issue with access, please email and I will share the document with you offline.
5. How do you envisage the budget being broken down?
We are looking for innovative proposals that optimise the greatest value for the budget. It is our intention for a maximum of 20-30% of the budget to be spent on Discovery.
6. Who conducted the pre-discovery surveys and workshops?
Pre-Discovery was conducted by HMPPS Digital.
7. Please can you confirm if expenses are included in the total budget?
Yes, they are. We will hold discussions around project budget, spend profile, and charging method during shortlist.
8. Does the £500,000 budget allocated cover the whole project life-cycle or just Discovery?
The allocated budget is intended to cover Discovery and Alpha including any inception work.
9. What is the scope phase of work for this proposal - is it only Discovery or is it the full life cycle?
Discovery and Alpha including any inception work.
10. Will you be supplying more background on your expectations around what needs to be achieved by when, and the work completed to date, for shortlisted suppliers?
We will supply more background to shortlised candidates and welcome a dialogue on deliverables based on initial proposals. Discovery outputs are defined in the GDS Service Manual.
11. Does the budget cover 2018/19 only, or will it extend to 2019/20?
2018/19 but we will clarify carry over with finance before presentations.
12. What is the scope of this piece of work, and will it require the conceptual design of a Service?
The Digital Studio works to GDS Standards. We are asking for submissions to cover Discovery and Alpha, which will focus on identifying user needs and the business value the Service can drive. Once Discovery is completed, usually around 4-6 weeks, we will conduct internal validation to confirm that continuation of the project will be beneficial to the MoJ, based on the outputs identified during Discovery.
13. Will the performance of the Supplier within this project be linked to the potential outcomes? For example, if the work reduces reoffending, will metrics be produced?
Whilst there are a range of problems we think can be solved that contribute to the reduction of reoffending, it is very difficult to attribute the impact from a single project on statistics and metrics. One of the aims of this project is to change the way these issues have previously been approached internally - in silos, tackled independently - and instead take a more holistic approach to both understanding the issues, and creating a service to help resolve them, if appropriate.
14. Do you have any initial thoughts on success criteria/baseline measurements for this project?
We expect this to be identified during the Discovery phase. Pre-discovery has allowed us to pencil out some areas of focus - access to housing, bank accounts, education etc - but ultimately we expect the outputs of Discovery to identify the success criteria for creating a safer workplace for MoJ, other departments and service staff, and a better service for Prison Leavers.
15. Are the outputs of pre-discovery shareable?
The outputs of pre-discovery are mostly survey information, and the areas of focus we identified (these are called out within the opportunity, under 'Any work that's already been done'). These outputs will be shared with the preferred supplier, and if appropriate, during Shortlist stage.
16. Do you have any initial thoughts or preconceptions in regards to tech stack/the current stack?
There is no existing tech stack. Whilst the preferred bidder will have access to the Studio and its available/existing Services for prototype work etc if required, at this stage we are focusing on Discovery and Alpha.
17. So a Supplier could propose open source development within AWS/Azure?
Yes, if a Supplier has relevant experience and wants to show that, although at this stage we are focusing on Discovery and Alpha.
18. Your proposal criteria asks for an indication of the solution. Do you want the proposal to focus on Discovery and Alpha rather than infrastructure/build etc?
Whilst it is useful to demonstrate you can take a Service through, the focus of your bid should be the ability to meet Discovery and Alpha, meeting the criteria set out in Government Digital Service Standards.
19. If - once Discovery is completed - a prototype is accepted, will the work that then follows to develop the end product be performed in house, or contracted out?
That is a decision that is yet to be made. At that stage of a project we would need to go through both GDS Service Assessment and internal assessment/governance procedures, and it is at this point that decisions to continue as well as the approach going forward (buy, outsourced build, in-house build) would be made. The priority of the project currently is completing a sense-checked Discovery. It is likely this will be brought through to Alpha, but not confirmed.
20. Is this a national project?
Currently, this project covers England and Wales. This may change, as Wales may develop a separate approach/model.
21. How long this phase/piece of work to last?
The budget allocated to this work is for FY18/19, and so we expect work to be completed in line with FYE.
22. You've mentioned traditional governance and working with blended teams in current practice, can you discuss this in regards to cultural fit?
HMPPS is a traditional government organisation. Prisons and Probation areas haven't been as well funded as other areas of government, and traditional structure and governance remain, with traditional approaches and views. Within the Studio we operate with 8 Agile teams with Heads of Profession and to HMPPS Governance, so there are two very different cultures within this area of work. A Supplier needs to understand how to successfully navigate between the two cultures for delivery, including how to best present and respect traditional approaches.
23. What is the split of the team across the Sheffield and London locations?
The Studio - and therefore the Agile teams - are based in Sheffield. Access to existing HMPPS Digital teams, networks, Product Owners, Hosting and Support is in Sheffield. Policy and Probation are based in London, as well as a range of stakeholders that will need to be met and consulted with. The NPS is regional, as well as other relevant organisations and the charity sector that will support this project, such as Probation, CRCs, DWP, charities, local authorities and other support.
24. In regards to scope, service users are offenders. Are we looking to engage users prior to release, or once they are released and engaged with Offender Managers?
Essentially, both. Some services begin/occur within Prison, some start after release. It is our belief that the Services should be proactive, rather than reactive, and so should start as early on in the process as needed.
25. Please clarify the timescales for the project. We understand mobilisation is by 19 November 2018, but expected completion dates are unclear for the discovery phase.
Expected completion is end of financial year 18/19
26. Please clarify the BPSS requirements for staff. Will the MoJ fund and support applications? Do all team members require this specific security clearance before starting on assignment?
BPSS is the required level of screening for all individuals working with or on behalf of a government department, and is an important precaution to confirm the identity of an individual (employee or contractor) and their rights to work in the UK. BPSS is a pre-employment check, as opposed to a security vetting procedure, and therefore does not need to be supported by a government department. The Ministry of Justice does not fund applications on behalf of Suppliers.
27. Will HMPPS be able to provide participants for the discovery stage, eg access to prison leavers?
Recruitment has not been scoped, Suppliers are expected to identify user types and we will provide access to operational teams to support. This could be through suppliers own recruitment or negotiated.
28. Can we have access to the findings from the pre-discovery work now in order to help shape the response?
We will not be providing the outputs at this stage, as access to pre-discovery findings should not affect your initial response (essential and nice to have skills and experience). We will however share and discuss pre-discovery work with shortlisted Suppliers.
29. Is there a team structure you expect or have in mind?
We welcome suppliers suggestions on this - the team structure needs to meet recommended team that addresses the brief and meets GDS standards for the phase of development.
30. Can you please define who you mean by 'service providers' in the requirement 'demonstrable experience, within the last 2 years, of experience working with service providers'
By service providers, we mean those who are providing services to external users, such as health and housing etc. Your response to this criteria should demonstrate where you have worked with a provider of similar services to those we have called out as a focus within this project.
31. Could you expand on what you mean by Complex systems? technically complex, complex user journeys etc?
Complex needs, complex organisational systems and processes to navigate.
32. Will there be a possibility to ask further clarifying questions for shortlisted suppliers after they have reviewed the pre-discovery report?
We are currently working to finalise the information that will be provided to shortlisted suppliers. Our intention is for this to be as clear as possible to support suppliers build their proposal, but are not expecting submissions to be shaped entirely on the outputs we provide. We will confirm the process, including opportunities to ask further questions, at shortlist stage.