Global Digital Marketplace

Globally, public procurement is in desperate need of reform and must embrace the tools, techniques and culture of the digital age. It’s a government’s top corruption risk as it’s where money and discretion collide.

The UK has begun to address this; GDS is leading the Global Digital Marketplace project, which is embedding user-centred, design-led, data-driven and open approaches across digital, data and technology planning, procurement, contracting and service delivery.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

The UK Digital Marketplace was launched in 2014 not only to help make it simpler, clearer, faster and more cost efficient for government to buy technology, but also in response to the UK Government’s relationship with the technology market.

Government technology was described as an "oligopoly" by Parliament; according to the National Audit Office report 'Information and Communications Technology in Government: Landscape Review’, in 2009 fewer than twenty companies retained 80% of the UK’s £16 billion of annual IT spending.

GDS has helped the UK digital, data and technology (DDaT) sector to evolve from a highly concentrated, uncompetitive market in 2009 to a highly diversified, competitive market; as of 1 October 2018 almost 5,100 suppliers are available to the UK public sector through the Digital Marketplace, over 92% of which are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Since its launch, the Digital Marketplace has seen over £4.3 billion worth of business pass through it, with just under half of that going to SMEs. It’s accelerated the growth of many hundreds of businesses distributed across the UK.

The Digital Marketplace offers an opportunity to support growth of the UK digital sectors, particularly for start-ups and scale-ups; a contract from government can transform a small business, giving it credibility, income and the crucial first customer.

Given the success of the Digital Marketplace, the UK seeks to use its expertise to support other governments. The UK’s Global Digital Marketplace is a partnership between GDS and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) that aims to help international governments make their procurement more transparent to prevent corruption and to boost their DDaT sectors. Its delivery model includes working in partnership with international and domestic DDaT service providers and educational institutions in host countries. GDS plans to introduce new learning and development curricula that are consistent with the skills in demand from the private, public and voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sectors, lowering the barriers to multilateral DDaT trade and talent flow.

The Global Digital Marketplace is a commitment to Priority 4 ‘Reduce corruption in public procurement and grants’ of the UK Anti-Corruption Strategy 2017 to 2022. GDS will use UK Government expertise to support the digital transformation of government procurement services in 4 countries, drawing on its experience of establishing the Digital Marketplace.

The Global Digital Marketplace project interventions include:
1. Assuring plans before money is spent ​- planning, business case development and spend controls, including associated codes of practice []
2. Designing procurements and contracts ​- the Digital Marketplace [] commercial routes to market, and associated procurement and contracting reforms
3. Assuring service delivery - contract award, managing service delivery and supplier relationships through DDaT service assessments, associated standards to assure delivery [] and ways of working with suppliers []
4. Embedding the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS) - throughout all 3 delivery stages outlined above, to support the progressive public disclosure of information relating to forward-look plans, procurements, contracts awarded and service delivery. Now an adopted UK Government standard [], OCDS information will be human-readable and machine-readable (all 5 stages of the OCDS map directly to the 3 delivery phases of the Global Digital Marketplace)
5. Building capability and capacity - developing new professions within government such as the DDaT profession and its associated capability framework [], building institutional capacities in the civil service and private sector through targeted learning and development modules covering the above areas, with training delivered through an academy model [], focusing on integrity, procurement reform, digital service delivery and government transformation

Throughout 2018 GDS has visited a variety of countries in Latin America, Southern Africa and South East Asia, to conduct feasibility studies. Building on these engagements, GDS and the FCO will establish who to work with over the next three years, to tackle corruption through sustainable procurement reforms and digital transformation, at national and sub-national government levels.

Innovation Description

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Year: 2018
Level of government: National/Federal government


  • Identifying or Discovering Problems or Opportunities - learning where and how an innovative response is needed
  • Generating Ideas or Designing Solutions - finding and filtering ideas to respond to the problem or opportunity

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