Work begins on online platform for government’s ‘Civilian Reserve’ to support future crisis response

Written by Sam Trendall on 3 February 2022 in News
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Government plans to assemble collective of external experts that can be deployed to assist ministers and officials in responding to future crises

Credit: Satheesh Sankaran/Pixabay

Work has begun on the development of an online platform for managing the government’s planned “Civilian Reserve” of external experts that will be deployed to support ministers and officials in responding to future emergencies.

The Cabinet Office is leading the project to create the reserve which, according to a contract notice published by the department last year, will “support increased resourcing in times of crisis”.

“The civil service will respond better to the next crisis if we can rapidly identify and deploy individuals with the needed skills and experience to meet that crisis,” the notice added.

The reserve will be divided into two strands, the first of which will comprise a “group of senior leaders from the public, private, third sectors with expertise in matters relating to resilience and national security”.

“Members of the group would offer their time to advise ministers and senior officials, and would be willing to use their organisations to facilitate government policy in times of crisis,” the notice said.

The second strand will be composed of a “network of experienced former crown and civil servants, who can be surged into critical crown and civil service roles or local resilience forums during a crisis, or be used to support a particular need where we might otherwise outsource to consultants”. 


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The Cabinet Office indicated that it “will need an effective digital service to effectively on-board, manage and deploy members of the Civilian Reserve if the scheme is going to meet the needs” of government.

The department wishes to create an online platform through which reservists can provide information on their skills and availability. The system is also being designed to allow departments to communicate with reservists, manage their deployments and, where necessary, pay them for their work.

Newly published procurement information reveals that IT company Version 1 has been appointed to a six-month contract to support the discovery and alpha development phases for the digital service. The deal, which came into effect on 4 January and offers the option of a six-month extension, will be worth £231,520 to the Dublin-headquartered firm. 

The discovery phase will be dedicated to the delivery of research intended to “ensure the service is feasible”, according to the contract notice. This will include interviews with potential users, and the creation of proposed “journey maps” for the online tool.

If the project is approved to move into alpha phase, Version 1 will then be tasked with assisting the Cabinet Office in “developing and testing approaches to deliver the digital service”.

At the conclusion of the two opening phases, results of work undertaken to that point “will be collated into an Alpha service review pack… including modelling of the costs and budget required to set up and run” a permanent live service.

 

About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology. He can be reached on sam.trendall@dodsgroup.com.

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