Government boosts SME consultancies with framework agreement

24 November 2011

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24 November 2011 | Adam Leach

All central government consultancy contracts worth more than £100,000 will be procured through a framework agreement by the middle of next year.

The Cabinet Office said this will replace all current consultancy framework agreements and will also be open to the wider public sector. It is estimated a maximum of £2 billion of consultancy will be purchased over the four-year duration of the framework.

The agreement, known as ConsultancyONE, will be awarded by mid-2012, providing the Cabinet Office with greater visibility and oversight of consultancy spend by having all major contracts in one place. As a result, it will support efforts to keep current consultancy spend under control, if not reduce it further. Earlier this year, the government announced that it had cut its consultancy spend from £1.4 billion to £500 million.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “This is about a new way of working. Aggregating all the government’s spend reduction through this contract framework and ensuring that all departments use it will end the days of disjointed, needlessly expensive spend on consultancy across government.”

While it will adopt current spending controls and purchasing guidelines on buying consultancy, the framework has adopted a number of measures designed to make it more accessible to SME consultancies.

These include a simplified PQQ with a maximum of 70 questions, compared with previous examples, which contained 122; a more detailed OJEU notice, including evaluation questions and guidance; standardised contract templates; and delayed insurance checks, which will only be carried out once a supplier’s services have been commissioned.

In addition, the framework will be broken down into small lots for specialist consultancy, expected to be more suited to SME capacity. The need to provide previous examples of working with the public sector has also been scrapped.

Stephen Allott, crown representative for SMEs who helped develop the framework, said: “This is a real step forward. SMEs are considered in every aspect of this contract framework. It’s not rhetoric, it’s reality.”

The framework was welcomed by the Management Consultancies Association (MCA). “The government has now put some clear water between value-adding management consultancy and temporary staffing or body shopping,” said MCA chief executive Alan Leaman. “These are different services and need to be separated in the buying process. Confusion between the two was often at the root of the reputational damage for the consulting industry.”


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