GDS Expands On Simplification Of Digital Services Contracts

Sep 04, 2015

The Government Digital Service (GDS) has expanded on how it is creating simpler, clearer contracts for the Digital Services Framework.

In June, GDS Assistant Director for G-Cloud and Digital Commercial Programme Warren Smith, revealed the organisation’s intentions to make framework agreements and call-off contracts more user-friendly.

At this point, the aim was to recognise that most people reading the procurement documentation on the framework aren’t legal professionals and change the language to reflect this.

Since then, GDS claims to have held two further contract design workshops and reduced the number of words by over 40% without reducing the material content.

To further reduce this, the team is aiming for a two line limit on sentences to increase the ease of understanding and reduce reading time, as advised by plain legal language promoters Clarity International.

Smith has also said that insights from user research have shown that buyers and suppliers need easy access to important contractual information without having to search through the entire contract and so GDS will be providing a summary at the start of the contract highlighting the main points.

“To reduce the length of the contract, we’d like to host ‘boilerplate’ clauses online these are the standard clauses that don’t change. We can then link to them from the buyer and supplier-specific contract, meaning that we publish them once, rather than reproducing them for every contract that’s created,” the assistant director explained.

“We’re also looking at making the process less complicated by automatically filling out parts of the contract using the details defined in the Request for Proposal (RFP) stage. We’ve started developing a prototype of the RFP process that will sit within the Digital Marketplace.

“We’ll be looking to link this with the creation of the call-off contract, following award. We intend for this to be in plain English too,” he added.

Wider Implications For Government

While the focus is currently on clarifying contracts within the Digital Services Framework, GDS hopes to expand it with wider opportunities within government legal documents.

The organisation believes that the use of images, better consistency and drafting contracts collaboratively could also have a significant positive impact on legal documents within the public sector.

Creating clearer and simpler contracts is just one aspect of a wider improvement programme for the Digital Services Framework.


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