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26 July 2012 | Adam Leach
The government’s failure to have its consultancy framework up and running by its own deadline has been described as a blow to both consultancy firms and their public sector clients.
Last November, the Cabinet Office announced it would set up a framework agreement through which all consulting contracts valued at more than £100,000 would be bought. Firms looking to participate were given a deadline of February to apply after many delays and were told that the invitations to tender would be sent to a shortlist around the 22 July. But SM understands the results of the PQQ stage will not now be known until 3 September and invitations to tender issued on 11 September.
Alan Leaman, chief executive of the Management Consultancies Association (MCA), told SM: “This is a blow to both the consultancy industry and more importantly to their public sector clients who need a modern, fit-for-purpose framework to buy consulting.”
When it was first announced, the government revealed it would replace all current consultancy frameworks to keep government consultancy spend under control. It estimated a maximum of £2 billion would be spent through the framework, called ConsultancyOne, over its four-year duration.
Leaman said that there has been a strong interest from consulting firms to get access to the framework, but that the delays are hurting them. “What I’m trying to get across to the Government Procurement Service is that every time this happens, it causes problems for companies because they plan around the dates they’re given. They make heavy investments in terms of staff time in making sure that that their bids are as good as they can be,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Cabinet Office told SM: “[Government Procurement Service] has had a substantial response to the PQQ for ConsultancyOne and its main priority is to ensure that all responses are evaluated thoroughly and robustly with equal consideration to all interested suppliers. GPS has announced revised timescales to bidders - the outcome of the PQQ evaluation will be advised on 3 September and the Invitation to Tender will be issued to successful suppliers on 11 September.”