Invitation to tender: opportunity to independently assess the ODI’s work on data trusts

Wed Feb 6, 2019
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Help assess our work on data trusts – exploring whether data trusts represent a useful approach in managing and safeguarding data that could lead to more data sharing between organisations

  • Tender reference: DTE-005
  • Call for tenders by the Open Data Institute
  • Contact: [email protected]

The objective of this work is to provide an independent assessment of both the Open Data Institute’s (ODI’s) work on data trusts and on the concept of data trusts.

The successful bidder will work in collaboration with the ODI who will provide guidance, review and assistance throughout.

Summary and timeline

AimProvide an independent assessment of both the ODI's work on data trusts and on the concept of data trusts
- UK government funders of the ODI's work on data trusts
- people and organisations interested in the concept of data trusts
Duration Between 26/02/2019 and 31/03/2019
Value of award (excl. VAT)Up to £35,000
Questions to ODI by17:00 on 13/02/2019
ODI responses by
17:00 on 14/02/2019
Costed proposals due by
17:00 on 19/02/2019
Tender decision by
17:00 on 21/02/2019
Contract awarded
17:00 on 22/02/2019
ODI brief winning applicant(s) 26/02/2019
ODI progress reviews
Final work delivered by
Tender reference:

[email protected]

Terms of payment

50% of the agreed value of the award will be paid on 8 March 2019, and the remaining 50% will be paid upon completion of the work, including satisfactory responses to all feedback from the ODI.


The ODI is working with the UK Government’s Office for Artificial Intelligence and other partners to pilot the UK’s first data trusts. The pilots are exploring a definition and accompanying set of characteristics that we have proposed.

The pilots will address data collected, shared and used in a number of different contexts – cities, illegal wildlife trade, and food waste in businesses – to establish whether data trusts represent a useful approach in managing and safeguarding data that could enable and stimulate more data sharing between organisations.

The research questions being addressed by this work include:

  • Does a data trust, with these characteristics, increase access to data while retaining trust?
  • Why would a data steward choose a data trust over other data access models?
  • What is the cost of establishing and running a data trust?
  • How does a data trust comply with existing legislation (including data protection legislation)?
  • If they’re useful, how would data trusts be made more repeatable and scalable?
  • What is government’s role in supporting and regulating the use of data trusts?
  • How can a data trust be certified or otherwise assessed by external stakeholders?
  • How would a data trust be stopped and wound down?

What we are doing

The ODI is taking a practical approach to address these questions across three data trust pilots.

In each pilot, it is working with an organisation, or group of organisations, seeking to increase access to data that they hold along with third party experts. The activities it is undertaking alongside for each of these pilots include:

  • user research and engagement to understand the data holders’, potential data users’ and other stakeholders’ objectives, requirements and desired outcomes for a data trust
  • legal analysis to explore the requisite legal personality, and subsequent process for and implications of incorporating a data trust
  • designing a decision-making process for a data trust based on different deliberative and engagement techniques
  • designing a data reuse process that potential data users would use to discover, seek to gain access and gain access (or not) to the data via a data trust
  • assessing the technical architecture that could be used to underpin and enable access to data via a data trust
  • research to explore how the benefits of data access could be distributed equitably to the different stakeholders of a data trust
  • assessing the viability of implementing a data trust in that particular context.

These activities will produce a design of a data trust for each pilot, along with a recommendation on whether to proceed to an implementation phase (and, if not, what other data access models or approaches may be more relevant).

Alongside the outputs for each pilot, the ODI will also publish a final synthesis report (covering lessons learned, recommendations for government and guidance for other organisations who want to design data trusts) and has convened a Data Trust Exploration Group (DTEG) of people around the world who are interested in the topic.

The audience for our outputs includes:

  • our funders
  • other policymakers around the world
  • the organisations involved in our data trusts pilots
  • and other organisations considering whether data trusts will be a useful model for them to use/explore

Independent assessment approach

To maximise the lessons learnt and conclusions that can be drawn by these audiences across the entire range of work being undertaken by the ODI we also want to commission an independent assessment. . The purpose of this assessment will be to:

  • (i) assess the ODI’s methodology and outputs of this phase of work
  • (ii) assess the concept of the data trust as a feasible, scalable model for some contexts
  • and (iii) assess the usefulness of the data trust model in the wider data sharing landscape

We have a budget of £35,000 and six weeks of time available for this assessment. We recognise that these are broad purposes and a short timescale.

We want you to use your expertise to recommend how you would approach this work.

We would expect all approaches to start by meeting with relevant people at the ODI and our funders to understand the project’s intentions, current state, and to gather information and contacts.

The following are some potential approaches that you could use in your work after that point. You may recommend that you perform one or more of these, or other ideas, within the budget and timescale:

  • a process evaluation of our methodology
  • using our research, and perhaps supplementing it with your own, to perform your own comparative assessment of data trusts against other data access models
  • semi-structured interviews with stakeholders in one or more of the data trust pilots to assess our work
  • an assessment of our work through the lens of a government policy-maker considering whether to support the model
  • an assessment of our work through the lens of a private sector business considering whether to use the model
  • an assessment of our work through the lens of a data reuser considering whether to use data that is accessible through a data trust
  • an assessment of our work through a private sector organisation that is looking to productise data trusts and help organisations to build or operate them


We expect the outputs to be:

  1. a single, short, accessible report
  2. a public talk in London sharing your findings, this talk is likely to take place after the project end date but you should factor the costs into your bid

The report and talk will both be published by the ODI under an open licence. You will be able to publish them too.

The report should provide both the funders for our work – the UK Office for AI and Innovate UK – and the broader audience interested in learning about it a different perspective from the Open Data Institute, its team and partners working on the project. That different perspective might lead to the same conclusions but it also might highlight gaps in our work, other insights into further research that is required, or different recommendations for what should happen next.

We expect the assessment to take c.6 weeks and, due to funding conditions, would like it to be completed and ready for publication before the end of March.

We recognise that this is a complex topic and that both the time constraints and funds may be less than you would like. You will be able to describe the limitations and areas for further assessment in your outputs.


We think you will need access to people, information and activities to perform the assessment. We will not unduly restrict your access and do not want to direct your activities. We want you to be independent.

We run daily core team standups, weekly full-team sprints and fortnightly governance meetings with our funders. While respecting commercial confidentiality and preserving our ability to deliver on the other needs of the project we will provide you with access to internal team members, documentation and meetings.

We also have activities in each pilot. These take a different shape because of the different contexts of each pilot. If they are willing, and while respecting their commercial confidentiality and privacy, we will provide you with access to key external contacts within each of the pilot projects.

You will be able to contact other people interested in data trusts as you see fit.

As part of this assessment you will have access to incomplete work. We will expect you to maintain appropriate confidentiality on work in progress until the full results of the activities, along with the independent assessment, are openly published at the end of the project.

The ODI will, where possible provide space to work in our offices in London, if members of the successful contractor wish to work onsite. There is an expectation that the successful contractor will work closely with the ODI team, which includes weekly face-to-face meetings and being available remotely (eg Skype, email, Slack).

We would like to see one draft halfway through the project and will share this with our funders for comment. We will return any comments to you within one week.

Form of tender response

Interested parties should submit a costed proposal (in English) to [email protected] which includes:

  • the tender reference in the email subject line
  • a short (no more than five pages) explanation of your proposed approach (eg methodology, scope), including why you are well-placed to do the work
  • a description of the team who will do the work, including bios
  • a description of the effort that you expect your approach will require from our team
  • the costing should be at activity level, but feel free to provide more detail
  • a writing sample of a similar research report or impact study

We expect you to include all travel, accommodation, expenses and other costs in the proposal.

If you have any questions about the tender, please contact [email protected] quoting the tender reference. The ODI reserves the right to make both anonymised questions and answers public or shared with other organisations having stated their interest.

Decision criteria

All proposals will be assessed as described in our public procurement policy. For clarity, organisations that are already contracted to work with the ODI on data trusts will not be eligible for this tender, but people and organisations who are members of the Data Trust Exploration Group (DTEG, described above) will be eligible. In addition, for this procurement we will be looking for:

  • experience in assessing ongoing programmes and projects of work
  • experience in making recommendations on data policy to governments
  • experience in making data strategy and governance recommendations to businesses