Five principles of public sector commissioning

17 July 2017

“Most people didn’t go into public services to be processing demand,” says commissioning consultant Benjamin Taylor.

“I don’t know anyone who wants to turn up each day to be an efficient gatekeeper.” Speaking at the Public Sector Show, Taylor, chief executive of the Public Service Transformation Academy, shared his five principles for the future of public sector commissioning.

1. Look for the need
Commissioners have to look behind the demand and address the individual needs and motivations that push people towards public services. For example, commissioning for clean streets might involve procuring a cleaning service, “but you’re going to be thinking about what causes people to drop litter”.

2. Think more broadly about your resources

You have more than just your budget. Think about the capabilities of the individuals and the communities you work with, what the market has to offer and what partners and civil society can do to plug the gaps.

3. Give people clear limitations
And make sure they have maximum freedom within those boundaries.

4. Take responsibility for things out of your control
“I don’t want you to accept blame, but I want you to accept responsibility,” says Taylor. Only then will commissioners learn to change things.

5. Test in the real world
“Until you’ve proven it in the real world, with real people, around public service outcomes, I don’t think you’ve got the right to say you’ve learned anything,” Taylor says.

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