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DfT looks for partner to help deliver its Blue Badge Service

Matteo Natalucci Published 07 February 2018

Beta and live work likely to include exploring use of services such as Verify, Notify, Pay, Personal Data Exchange and Attribute Exchange


The Department for Transport (DfT), on behalf of 207 local authorities across the country is looking for a transformation partner to take the Blue Badge online application form, Local Authority interface and the single system of record through beta and in to live.

This contract – which is expected to have a value of around £2.7m – is likely to have a duration of ten months. The contract is to take forward a Beta phase and transition in to a Live Service by January 2019.  According to additional information for bidders documents  associated with the procurement, the Alpha phase concluded on December 15 last year and the GDS Alpha Service Assessment passed on January 16. 

The Beta should adopt the findings of the Discovery and Alpha phases to build and implement a new digital solution for the Blue Badge service. The supplier will be responsible for taking the findings from the Discovery and Alpha phases into Beta, as well as building the new service and transitioning to a Live Service by January 2019.

The Blue Badge scheme helps those with severe mobility problems who have difficulty using public transport to park close to where they need to go. 207 Local Authorities throughout the UK administer this scheme.

There are about three million Blue Badge holders in the UK and permits can last up to three years. Around one million applications are made each year. Between April 2016 and March 2017, over one million badges were printed and distributed and DfT expects the annual badge production to rise in future.

An additional information for the Beta document suggests the work will include exploring further the use of existing Government services, including GOV UK Verify, GOV UK Notify, GOV UK Pay, GOV UK Platform as a Service (PaaS), GOV UK Personal Data Exchange (PDE), GOV UK Attribute Exchange, the Passport Office for Passport photos, and DVLA for Driving Licence photos.

The documents show that the Current Blue Badge Service contract provides a national online application service; a national database of shared badge data; the manufacturing and distribution of high-tech secure badges, including badge wallets and parking timer clocks; systems support; and a public call centre.

The data sharing system is at the heart of the current service, providing local authorities with a common tool in which to enter, and manage, application details. This system provides an online application facility, including an initial identity and eligibility screening in order to provide automatic entitlement and to prevent multiple and fraudulent applications, which is available to members of the public via Gov.UK in England and Wales, with Scotland and Northern Ireland using different platforms.

The documents say the current service is a “significant improvement” on the arrangements that were in place previously. However, the documents say there are some problems that need to be addressed when building a new service. For example:

  • the process for reapplying (as opposed to applying for the first time) is not clear to applicants and the online form must re-populate with data from the previous application
  • there have been problems with the online application system including: an inability to go back to correct errors; ‘next step’ not being intuitive; difficulty in finding a saved application; it not being clear if a form has been submitted; the process is too long; difficulty in uploading photographs; there is a requirement to provide multiple identity and eligibility proofs; and it not being mobile friendly.

In addition there have been some difficulties for local authority users in terms of how the service integrates with existing local authority systems, the inability of the system to automatically cross check applicants’ eligibility against data held by other government departments and agencies and data quality coming into/from the system.

The problems will be addressed, the documents say, by taking forward the work already undertaken in Discovery and Alpha and by working closely with citizens and in particular Local Authorities.

The contract for the current online application, Local Authority interface and single system of record ends in December 2018. DfT needs a new Local Authority interface, online application form and single system of record to be in place by January 2019.

The current high-level needs of a Blue Badge service include an online application system, a national database and management information system of all badge data, secure badge production and fulfilment, and an ongoing support service for users.

The closing date for applications for the opportunity is February 19.

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