Paul Stokes

Paul Stokes

Last updated on 1 May 2024

Paul Stokes is Subject Matter Expert (Digital Preservation) at Jisc

Buying a digital preservation system has never been a quick process. They’re expensive (and definitely NOT an unconsidered, impulse buy) which almost inevitably means a full public procurement exercise. Lead times from the initial consideration (”we need to do something about keeping our digital stuff usable”) to the final deployment of a shiny, new system can be of the order of years. A not inconsiderable part of that lead time can be used up in the procurement process; deciding what bells and whistles are actually needed, who needs them, why they’re needed, who can cater to those needs and who or what provides the MEAT (most economically advantageous tender).

It’s not just time. There’s also the resource implications to consider as well. A purchasing institution needs procurement expertise and digital preservation expertise in order to make an informed choice. And if you’re at the beginning of your digital preservation journey, although you may have the procurement expertise, you may well not have much in the way of preservation knowhow. (“OAIS… that’s a wet place in the desert isn’t it?”).

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a lot of the digital preservation procurement heavy lifting were done for you, leaving you to dwell on the finer details of what suits you and your institution?

And that’s where Jisc’s digital preservation Dynamic Purchasing System comes in (or DP DPS for short).

What is it?

So, what is a digital preservation Dynamic Purchasing System, what does it do, and, possibly just as importantly, what is it not (and what does it not do).

It IS a fast, cheap and OJEU and compliant way of procuring a Digital Preservation System.

Its Fast— (as compared to the considerably longer timescales usually experienced when undertaking public procurement exercises). Typically, 4 to 8 weeks from posting a mini competition (more on what that is shortly) to contracts being placed.

It’s Competitive—the DPS procurement process has to be a competition. Purchasers always get a market competitive price for the services they procure.

Its OJEU compliant

It’s cost effective—a DPS is cost effective for all those involved. it’s free for buyers to use and there is no cost for suppliers to be on the DPS (suppliers only pay a small percentage of the value of contracts actually placed with them through the DPS).

It’s cheaper than traditional procurement routes—there’s a reduced procurement resource requirement for both purchasers and suppliers. Jisc do all the commercial due diligence when vendors are recruited onto the DPS.

Reduced technical resource—There’s a reduced need for in-house technical resource for buyers in the pre-purchasing stages. Jisc have already ensured that the vendors meet the core requirements for a DP system. Jisc can also help with the technical side of the procurement—addressing the chicken and egg situation of preparation of any additional requirements before a Digital Preservation member of staff has been recruited.

It’s worth noting that even though the DPS has a fixed lifetime as a procurement mechanism, contracts can extend beyond that window.

And the question of what it is not…?

It’s different...

A DPS is NOT a framework—prices and services are not fixed at the time the vendors are recruited and the procurement vehicle launched. Tendering is always through a competition. There is no provision for direct award. In this way, prices are dynamic and competitive. They’re not fixed at the beginning of the lifetime of the DPS.

As the name implies, its Dynamic. What that means in this case is that new vendors can join at any time in the lifetime of the DPS. As soon as they’re accepted onto the DPS they can take part in mini-competitions.

Jisc undertakes the due diligence and pre validates the suppliers. We evaluate the supplier’s ability to deliver against the base set of requirements when they join the DPS and at the same time we do the commercial due diligence. This is advantageous for both suppliers—they do the majority of the procurement bidding process just once no matter how many mini-competitions they take part in—and buyers—they only need to set and evaluate any extended requirements.

So how does A DPS work?

Vendors are recruited by Jisc using a base set of requirements and standard commercial criteria. As soon as they’re accepted onto the DPS they can take part in mini competitions.

When the time comes to procure, buyers post their Digital preservation requirement onto the DPS e-portal, adding any particular needs they might have over and above the base set and stipulating the selection criteria they’ll be using. This is the mini-competition mentioned earlier.

The mini-competition is announced to all the vendors on the DPS who can then enter their bid.

Communications and questions are facilitated by Jisc through the e-portal. At the end of the bidding period, the buyer makes their selection and awards the contract accordingly. (Jisc is not a party to that contract—it’s between buyer and vendor).

It’s that simple. And as mentioned earlier, it can take as little as 4 to 8 weeks.

Who’s it for?

Amongst others, any purchasing institution who fits one of the following criteria:

  • Jisc and its members.

  • Higher Education institutions,

  • Further Education and Specialist Colleges and Research Council establishments in the UK,

  • Organisations connected to the Janet network

  • Local Authorities

  • Regional Broadband Consortia,

  • National Research and Education Networks (NREN)

  • GÉANT members

  • HEAnet,

  • Members of higher and further education purchasing consortia

This scope includes a large number of institutions both in the UK and Europe.

Want to know more?

More information, including details of the vendors currently signed up to the DP DPS can be found at or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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