New marketplace opens for public sector AI

Crown Commercial Service’s new Artificial Intelligence Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) offers a route to buy artificial intelligence services in the public sector, and will allow customers to access a wide range of competition in an emerging market.

The services offered under this DPS, which is now live, will support customers to scope projects, understand how to solve problems using AI, maximise value and increase efficiency across the public sector.

Experienced customers can buy licencing, customisation and support directly from suppliers on this DPS, as well as consultancy support for those who are new to AI.

As suppliers can apply to join a DPS at any time, startups and SMEs can find out what a customer is looking for in an AI product or service and think about how they can meet those requirements.

This procurement procedure will support the ethical development of AI and true innovation across the public sector. It will provide opportunities to accelerate the adoption of new technologies within government, and improve services for citizens throughout the UK.

In June, the government published guidelines for AI procurement, including advice on ethical considerations. This guidance was drawn up by the Office of AI working with CCS.

Patrick Nolan, CCS Technology Director, said: "Artificial Intelligence offers exciting opportunities to modernise public services, raise productivity and increase efficiency. This will ultimately save the taxpayer money, help to build a skilled workforce and create better public services. This new agreement will enable the public sector to access the latest in AI technology, including access to technology for medical screening and diagnosis, chatbots to drive up the quality of customer experience, and virtual assistants."

Digital Minister Caroline Dinenage said: "The UK is a leader in emerging technologies and I am pleased our AI procurement guidelines helped shape the Crown Commercial Service's new system which will address ethical considerations when organisations buy artificial intelligence services for use in the public sector. The tool aims to boost safe and fair innovation alongside improved public services to people up and down the country."