Clearer specifications help Rochdale reduce consultancy spend

7 July 2011

7 July 2011 | Angeline Albert

Rochdale MetropolitanBorough Council (RMBC) has cut its spend on consultants by almost 70 per cent over the last three years.

New guidance from senior management enabled purchasers to draw up clearer specifications for consultancy services, and ensure consultants provide what the local authority actually needs. Buyers were also provided with improved training to complement the changes.

Processes governing the use of consultants were improved between 2008 and the 2010-2011 financial year, with spend reduced to £378,000.

Councillor Farooq Ahmed, cabinet member for finance, said: “The new process ensures a consistent approach is used and further guidance has been provided to officers writing specifications to make sure we are clear about what we want from consultants, and that we achieve our objectives.

“Sometimes we do need to draw on consultants if we don’t have the experience or skills within the council, but I am now confident that we have a rigorous process in place.”

The authority will also implement an IT system in October to further improve the management of consultancy spend. RMBC is also taking the lead to help other authorities in Greater Manchester and Lancashire implement the system, called the ‘seeker managed service’. DarwenBorough Council is already using it in Salford and Blackburn.



Georgina Jones, head of procurement at RMBC, said: “The seeker managed service will provide many benefits. For example it will give us more information on which to base our decisions, it will enable regular benchmarking of rates to ensure that the best terms are achieved and it will make it easier for local consultancies to bid for work, which is always a key priority for the council, by creating one point of contact via the seeker system. We will be holding an event in the near future to introduce potential suppliers to the system. ”

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