The government has pledged to make public sector frameworks clearer for suppliers and claims its recent "contract design jams" will make that a reality.
The Government Digital Service (GDS) is in the process of redesigning the divisive Digital Services Framework and in a blog post it said ensuring the new iteration is written in plain English is a priority after getting feedback in "jamming" sessions.
At the moment, Digital Services contracts consist of nearly 90,000 words and the government admits it is a time-consuming process.
"Based on an average adult reading speed (around 250 words per minute), it would take six hours to read them, and that is assuming that a single read-through would be enough to comprehend the contract," it said on the blog.
To that end, it wants to simplify the contracts.
"Lots of things make current contracts hard to use and inaccessible to the people who could benefit from them. Contracts are often worded in a way that suggests an expectation that something's going to go wrong. Lots of content uses negative or controlling language – termination; consequences; liabilities; penalties; prevention; safeguarding; dispute and so on.
"As part of the Digital Services redesign, we would like to look at replacing negative language with something more neutral, and get rid of inaccessible aspects of the contracts."
It said obscure terminology and duplicate content will be done away with in the new contracts for the next iteration and that it will try to address the "lack of structure", "poor format and layout" and "unnecessary volume of words used".
"The Digital Marketplace is about helping those transforming public services by making it simpler, clearer and faster for them to buy what they need," the government said. "The majority of buyers and suppliers are not legal professionals and are not overly familiar with legal terminology. Let's aim to make our contracts reflect this."
The plans were put in place following four "contract design jam" sessions, which are workshops for "people with an interest in transforming government contracts".
Attendees from across the government joined the "jams" to plan the next steps for the Digital Services framework.
Suppliers and buyers will be invited to pass judgement on the sessions next month.
"[We] hope you like jamming too," the government said "We're planning on showing our work so far and sharing our progress on the blog after the third contract design jam, which takes place on 9 July."
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