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19 February 2013 | Anna Reynolds
A new framework to buy consultancy services will save money and boost business with SMEs, according to Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude.
Developed by the Government Procurement Service (GPS) and available now, the new ConsultancyONE framework replaces all existing deals used by central government departments. Consultancy requirements between £100,000 and £2 million will now be managed through a single buying team in GPS, enabling government to track spend more efficiently. Savings on consultancy day rates of at least 20 per cent are expected through use of the new agreement.
Maude said in a statement: “We want to go even further in changing how government buys in consultancy services by introducing a new single framework which saves even more money for the taxpayer and ends our reliance on larger suppliers.
“With SMEs making up over 27 per cent of suppliers on this first phase of the framework, we’re creating more opportunities and boosting business for smaller providers where we know greater value and innovation can be found.”
However Alan Leaman, CEO of the Management Consultancies Association who which contributed to the development of the framework, warned focusing on the lowest cost could put off specialist SME consultancies, for whom it is already costly to tender for work: “An exclusive focus on day rates risks driving many SMEs out of this market. The next stage in the development of the government’s policy will involve focusing on delivering value for the taxpayer and not just on driving down prices.”
He told SM prioritising low fee rates could mean that quality and value are neglected. “The key issue is ensuring that the public sector gains the best possible value from its engagement with consultancies. That is why we urged the government to give buyers in the public sector a wider choice of firms via this framework,” he added.
The first phase of awards for ConsultancyONE for nine lots including financial strategy, multi specialism programme delivery advice and external audit, were made last week. A second award of a further six lots will be made in March. The framework offers a wider choice of suppliers with almost half (47 per cent) of the successful firms not existing framework suppliers.
David Smith, commercial director at Department for Work and Pensions and senior responsible officer for the consultancy framework, said: “I very much welcome this single framework for government which will offer us better value for money and greater and direct access to the innovation and expertise that SME providers can offer.”
The framework can also be used by organisations across the UK public sector. Larger consultancy assignments above £2 million will be subject to full competition via the OJEU process.
The full list of suppliers on the framework can be found here.