Payments Transformation Project information: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002


Information requested

You asked a number of questions detailed below relating to the Payments Project.

Question 1. In my last FOI request, I asked for a copy of the business case for this Scottish Government Payments project. Can you please email me a copy?

Question 2. In the business case, was there an options appraisal which included the gov.pay product from UK Central Government and the current Scottish Government Accounting & Payments System? If so, why was this rejected?

Question 3. Were there any objections to the business case from anyone in the Scottish Government or external advisers? If so, what were these objections and who objected?

Question 4. This is the Reference for the Prior Information Notice for the Beta Stage, please can you provide the Invitation to Tender (ITT) Documents, References and Details of the Payments Transformation Beta Stage procurement as there seem to be no Documents in the public domain.

Question 5. Clare Mills said on March 2019 in response to a question that the Scottish Government would evaluate options, including GOV.PAY. Please send the options appraisal, and why did you not select GOV.PAY for part or all of the Payments Platform?

Question 6. Why did the Scottish Government pay Scott Logic £6,250,000 pounds for a Payments Platform that has only ever made 44 payments in 3 years, when GOV.PAY and the Scottish Government existing Payments system can already take and make payments?

Question 7. Who recommended to pay a supplier £6,250,000 for a service that is not used since December 2021, and has only made one payment run?

Question 8. How did Internal Audit, Audit Scotland and internal Gateway Reviews rate the Payments Project between 2018 and December 2021 when it made its first and only payment ? Did they write Reports and scrutinise the value for money between August 2018 and July 2022?

Question 9. Did they or any other internal employees suggest it was not value for money, or raise the payments to Scott Logic as a significant amount to pay for something that has not delivered against the ITT (if there was one) and contract?

Question 10. Does the DG Corporate Services consider this Payments Project as a value for money Project?

Question 11. Were there any other payments made to Scott Logic between Summer 2018 and July 2022 other than the £6,251,130.49 in your response to the FOI? If so, which digital projects were these for, as it appears they won another Contract Award from Scottish Government for Digital Identity Scotland?

Question 12. Has the Payments project now been abandoned? If so, why was it cancelled and on what grounds?

Question 13. If the Payments project is continuing, please send the business case for the Beta phase and subsequent phases?

Response

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have all of the information you have requested. From the information we hold we can answer the following;

Question 1: In my last FOI request, I asked for a copy of the business case for this Scottish Government Payments project. Can you please email me a copy?

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide with a copy of the payments transformation project business case you have requested because the following exemption applies: Section 33(1)(b) – Commercial interests.

An exemption under section 33(2)(b) of FOISA (financial interests) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the financial interests of the Scottish Government. Disclosing this information would be likely to provide current and future suppliers detailed knowledge on The Scottish Government’s ability to pay for goods and services and prejudice its ability obtain value for money as part of current and future commercial contracts with suppliers.

This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open and transparent government, and to help account for the expenditure of public money. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the financial interests of the Scottish Government, to ensure that we are always able to obtain the best value for public money.

Question 2. In the business case, was there an options appraisal which included the gov.pay product from UK Central Government and the current Scottish Government Accounting & Payments System? If so, why was this rejected?

Note: we believe that in the question above, GOV.PAY refers to “GOV.UK Pay”

Gov.UK Pay was not discounted through an options appraisal. The SG Payments Service Beta focusses entirely on outbound payments (e.g. to citizens and businesses) and Gov.UK Pay is a solution for inbound payments (receipts). Should a decision be made to include inbound payments in the SG payments service then a formal options appraisal will be conducted to assess whether GOV.UK Pay should be used.

The Scottish Executive Accounting System (SEAS) is an accounting system, and although it produces some payment information, it requires a payment service to submit payments to banking networks. SEAS is also only available to a reduced number of organisations in Scotland, whereas the SG Payments Service is open to all public sector organisations in Scotland who wish to use it.

Question 3. Were there any objections to the business case from anyone in the Scottish Government or external advisers? If so, what were these objections and who objected?

The business case was approved by all the members of the Project board, which included:

  • Senior Responsible Owner
  • Director General Organisation Development and Operations;
  • Digital Director
  • Director of Procurement and Commercial, and;
  • Chief Financial Officer.

There were no objections made to the business case from anyone in the Scottish Government or external advisers.

Question 4. This is the Reference for the Prior Information Notice for the Beta Stage, please can you provide the Invitation to Tender (ITT) Documents, References and Details of the Payments Transformation Beta Stage procurement as there seem to be no Documents in the public domain.

Scottish Government Payments Transformation – Beta Stage - Reference No: FEB381032

We have attached the full set of documents which were published as part of the Invitation to Tender (ITT) to our response.

Question 5. Clare Mills said on March 2019 in response to a question that the Scottish Government would evaluate options, including GOV.PAY. Please send the options appraisal, and why did you not select GOV.PAY for part or all of the Payments Platform?

Note: we believe that in the question above, GOV.PAY refers to “GOV.UK Pay”

Gov.UK Pay will be formally appraised only if in the future the Scottish Government Payments Service considers inbound payments (receipts). GOV.UK Pay was not selected as it does not provide a service for outbound payments.

Question 6. Why did the Scottish Government pay Scott Logic £6,250,000 pounds for a Payments Platform that has only ever made 44 payments in 3 years, when GOV.PAY and the Scottish Government existing Payments system can already take and make payments?

Note: we believe that in the question above, GOV.PAY refers to “GOV.UK Pay”

Payments made in December 2021 were the first test of live payments made to Beta Partners users. The first two quarters of 2022 the foundational platform and service has been continually developed and tested as part of the iterative design and development approach and has undergone external cyber security testing and independent assurance prior to officially moving into private beta phase in June 2022. The value paid to Scott Logic is in accordance with the commercially agreed contracts. Questions around the use of GOV.UK Pay and SEAS are answered above.

Question 7. Who recommended to pay a supplier £6,250,000 for a service that is not used since December 2021, and has only made one payment run?

Payments made in December 2021 were the first test of live payments made to Beta Partners users. The first two quarters of 2022 the foundational platform and service has continually been developed and tested as part of an iterative design and development approach and has undergone external cyber security testing and independent assurance prior to officially moving into private beta phase in June 2022. Regular, weekly batch payments to beta partner users commenced as part of private beta in June 2022 and is ongoing.

The recommendation to appoint the supplier as technical delivery partner were made by a panel of Scottish Public Sector officials, in adherence to procurement legislation and process and in line with the Scottish Public finance manual, which can be accessed via this link. Scottish Public Finance Manual - gov.scot (www.gov.scot).

Question 8. How did Internal Audit, Audit Scotland and internal Gateway Reviews rate the Payments Project between 2018 and December 2021 when it made its first and only payment ? Did they write Reports and scrutinise the value for money between August 2018 and July 2022?

As with most major projects in the Scottish Public Sector, the Payments Project, is subject to the Technology Assurance Framework Technology Assurance Framework - Digital - gov.scot (www.gov.scot) which comes under the remit of The Directorate for Internal Audit and Assurance (DIAA). The DIAA provides independent assurance on major digital projects and new or transformed digital services. As part of satisfying the conditions set out by the DIAA, Gateway Reviews were conducted at business justification, pre-procurement and delivery phase, which were respectively rated Amber/Green (2019), Amber/Green (2020) and Amber (2021). Audit Scotland officials are part of a wider stakeholder audience in attendance to quarterly "Show and Tells" used to communicate progress and demonstrate the service. No reports have been written by Audit Scotland to date.

Question 9. Did they or any other internal employees suggest it was not value for money, or raise the payments to Scott Logic as a significant amount to pay for something that has not delivered against the ITT (if there was one) and contract?

No internal review to date has suggested that the Payments Service was not value for money. Contract delivery is managed with the professional support of Digital Commercial Service as part of the contract management process with delivery performance assessed against SG requirements, standards and ITT.

Question 10. Does the DG Corporate Services consider this Payments Project as a value for money Project?

The Payments project was assessed in a business case delivered by the Digital Directorate which demonstrated value for money.

A breakdown can be found below (per year and by contract) of payments made by the Digital Directorate to Scott Logic. Whereas we can confirm that this the totality of payments on record and registered against Scott Logic as a supplier for the SG Digital Directorate, it may be that Scott Logic provides services for other areas of the public sector which are not accounted for in Scottish Government systems.

Financial year 2018/19

  • Payments Service discovery: £180,000

Financial year 2019/20

  • Payments service discovery: £90,000
  • Payments service Alpha: £582,000
  • First Minister Digital Fellowship: £55,631.56

Financial year 2020/21

  • First Minister Digital Fellowship: £56,852.54
  • Payments service Alpha Cloud tooling and other overheads: £6,122.58
  • Payments service Beta: £1,445,650.52
  • Payments service Beta Cloud tooling and other overheads: £61,545.31

Financial year 2021/22

  • Payments service Beta: £3,681,513.17
  • Payments service Beta Cloud: £91,814.92
  • Digital identity delivery: £2,932,932.36
  • Digital identity business overheads: £740.97

Financial year 2022/23 (to date)

  • Payments service Beta: £862,744 tooling and other overheads
  • Payments service Beta Cloud tooling and other overheads: £24,234.08
  • Digital identity delivery: £1,240,707.12
  • Digital identity business overheads: £342.62

Question 12. Has the Payments project now been abandoned? If so, why was it cancelled and on what grounds?

No, the payments project has not been abandoned.

Question 13. If the Payments project is continuing, please send the business case for the Beta phase and subsequent phases?

Unfortunately, in this instance we are unable to provide with a copy of the payments transformation project business case you have requested because an exemption(s) under section(s ) Section 33(1)(b) – Commercial interests exemption of FOISA applies to that information.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.

FOI - 202200314023 - Information Released - Annex A

FOI - 202200314023 - Information Released - Annex B

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG

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