'Playbook' launched to improve Whitehall outsourcing

20 February 2019

The UK government has published a “playbook” that aims to improve procurement and outsourcing.

The playbook – a term derived from books of strategy used by US football teams – is expected to be launched by Cabinet Office (CO) minister Oliver Dowden today.

It aims to give guidance to departments to ensure they work with a diverse and healthy marketplace of companies, including small businesses and charities.

The announcement comes after the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and minister for the CO David Lidington announced reforms to ensure that government procurement is fit for the future.

The move follows high profile outsourcing disasters including the collapse of Carillion.

In September last year the government's chief commercial officer, Gareth Rhys Williams, told SM a study group had been formed to improve the management of major outsourcing projects.

Under the latest announcement the government plans to change how it allocates risk between itself and suppliers to help contracts work more smoothly.

It aims to improve the design of outsourcing projects, with complex contracts to be piloted with the private sector before rolling out fully, enabling the government to learn from experience and deliver better public services.

Dowden said: “Outsourcing can deliver significant benefits, including value for money and more innovative public services. Our new measures will improve how the government works with industry and provide better public services for people across the country."

Dowden said the playbook advised departments to mitigate, reduce and then allocate risks to the party best able to manage it.

“A more considered approach to risk allocation will make us a smarter, more attractive client to do business with,” he said.

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