Cabinet Office invests £140k in digital platform to anonymously report bullying

Department invests in browser-based tool that can be accessed via intranet
Photo: Jana/Pixabay

By Sam Trendall

27 Apr 2023

The Cabinet Office has signed a six-figure deal for a new digital platform that will allow civil servants to anonymously report instances of bullying, harassment or discrimination.

Commercial documents reveal that the department entered into a one-year engagement with Culture Shift, a specialist software firm, on 27 March . The contract, which is valued at £139,300, covers the provision of the platform for an initial pilot phase involving up to 1,000 officials, before being “scaled up to 10,000 users” – equivalent to the entire workforce of the department and its various units and agencies.

Access to the system will be enabled “through a link that can be advertised on the department’s intranet website”, the contract indicated, and the reporting interface will feature clear Cabinet Office branding.

Users must be assure that their reports can be made anonymously and should also be clearly informed “that information submitted will be used for trend mapping only to enable the Cabinet Office to offer targeted support to specific areas”, according to the contract.

The supplier will be expected to ensure that “the administration of the product [is] quick and easy, with reports being downloaded from the product in a visually attractive and easy to understand format without manual manipulation”.  The terms of the deal also provide for the Cabinet Office “to add on more features regarding support and campaigns advertised in the future”.

The department stipulates that user data must be housed in an AWS environment in the UK.

Throughout the lifespan of the contract, the Cabinet Office will “have access to a dedicated relationship manager for contact at all times and quarterly briefings for review”.

On its website, Culture Shift claims that its platform “allows users to report any incident safely and access further support – enabling organisations to take a proactive and preventative approach to protecting their culture”.

The Mancunian firm has previously won deals to provide the technology to several universities. GOV.UK procurement records indicate that the Cabinet Office is its first central government customer.

News of the department’s investment in the reporting platform comes during a week of sharp focus on the issuing of bullying in Whitehall, after the former deputy prime minister and justice secretary Dominic Raab resigned from government following an independent investigation that found he had behaved in an “intimidating or insulting” manner towards civil servants.

The Cabinet Office indicated to CSW's sister title PublicTechnology that there are currently no plans to roll out the system beyond the department itself.

A spokesperson added: "This is a pilot approach being tested in the Cabinet Office and supports the department's ongoing work aligned to the Civil Service Diversity and Inclusion strategy.”

Sam Trendall is editor of CSW's sister title PublicTechnology, where this story first appeared

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