Home Office pushes on with multimillion-pound digital borders programme

Department seeks partner to support ongoing work to build a range of services

Credit: Danny Howard/CC BY 2.0

By Sam Trendall

05 May 2020

The Home Office is pushing ahead with its multimillion-pound programme to digitise the UK’s borders.

Launched in 2016, the department’s Digital Services at the Border (DSAB) operation is an ongoing programme to digitise the management of entry to the UK via the county via ports and airports. The government also wishes to improve the data available to authorities. 

Over the course of a 12-month programme of work scheduled to begin in July, the Home Office and its chosen delivery partner will work on the continued development of digital services including border crossing, management of the watchlist of suspected criminals, and search facilities to help the Border Force and police “identify and assess threats”.


These products are currently nearing the conclusion of design phase, with one already in the “early beta testing”.

A supplier with experience of working on projects related to critical national infrastructure is being sought to support the next phase of work on the project. The winning bidder will be appointed to a year-long contract worth between £4m and £5m – with a possible 12-month extension thereafter.

“Work packages will be focused on all stages of agile delivery and will be based on the strategic roadmaps for our products,” the Home Office said. “As a key delivery partner, you will be expected to embrace the one team culture in DSAB and work with other suppliers to achieve a series of high-profile Home Office outcomes in the digital border space that span organisational and supplier boundaries. We are building a reputation for engineering excellence and we will be seeking support to continually evolve and improve our engineering platforms and processes."

The incumbent supplier is Newcastle-based software design firm Scott Logic, but the Home Office stressed that bids to support the next phase of work will be submitted on the basis of a new and fair competition.

“The opportunity has been raised as an open competition and the Home Office will not be selective in encouraging bidders,” it said. “Any supplier on the DOS (Digital Outcomes and Specialists) framework who feels they have the capability to deliver the required outcome is welcome to apply.”

Bids for the work are open until 12 May, after which the department expects to assess five suppliers.

The department said: “The primary benefits of delivering DSAB are to: enhance the security of the UK; gather and act on data from those people and entities crossing the border, both inbound and out; and provide timely and accurate data to those who need to access [and] use it.”

Research by CSW's sister title PublicTechnology found that the Home Office is by far government’s biggest user of the digital outcomes framework, with more than 150 agile development projects embarked upon in the last four years.

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