Noreen Winhall discusses the impact of the latest government playbooks on UK public procurement
We are living in the age of the Playbook.
The publication in March of the Digital, Data and Technology Playbook added another aspect to the Government’s vision of procurement best practice in the UK – a field which has seen major interventions over recent years in some of the most significant spend areas for public sector procurement.
Digital, data and technology joins consultancy and construction as areas where the Government is leading and shaping our commercial approach as contracting authorities.
These playbooks set out how departments should approach procurement and programmes of activity, and their application is assured through Cabinet Office controls. They also outline the Government’s expectations for how contracting authorities and suppliers should engage with each other.
At Crown Commercial Service, we’ve made significant progress building the substance of the Government’s playbooks into our products right now – enabling better outcomes for our 20,000 customers across the public sector.
Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT)
The 11 key policy reforms set out in the DDaT playbook cover everything from the development and publication of commercial pipelines to effective contracting, open and interoperable data and code, and supplier assurance. CCS can support contracting authorities’ strategic planning in these areas in a number of ways.
We hold a wealth of market intelligence and commercial expertise in technology procurement, including in the specialist fields of cyber security, big data, AI and cloud computing. Our technology frameworks see billions of pounds-worth of spend on DDaT products and services every year, including significant direct spend with SMEs. Our range of Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with major suppliers standardise and optimise pricing across the whole public sector, and our commercial agreements provide firm foundations for meeting the Playbook’s recommended contractual baseline of commercial, technical, security and legal principles.
Having led the drafting process, covering early supplier engagement, outcome-based specifications, effective contracting, risk management, long-term planning and the overall procurement process, CCS continues to be part of the steering group supporting and overseeing the Construction Playbook’s implementation.
Our Construction experts are instrumental in shaping the public sector’s approach in the field, most recently launching our new partnership construction agreement with NHS England, which is both playbook-compliant and meets the new construction Gold Standard. This brings together our own construction procurement offer with the next generation of the ProCure agreement – helping to rationalise the number of public sector construction frameworks in operation, as recommended in the Playbook.
The Consultancy Playbook recommends that commercial teams should first consider whether there is a suitable CCS agreement to go to market through. Using CCS’s consultancy frameworks ‘provides an efficient route to market… allowing users to reduce cost, mitigate risk and maintain delivery assurance.’
Since its launch, CCS has worked closely with partners including the Government Consulting Hub, Cabinet Office’s Markets and Suppliers team, and Crown Representatives to increase the Government’s in-house capacity and expertise, boost collaboration, and ensure that, where external expertise is required, the public sector makes better decisions based on firmer data.
The age of the Playbook – find out more
You can find a full list of Crown Commercial Service commercial agreements and details of how to build policy considerations into your procurement in our interactive digital brochure.
Noreen Winhall, Commercial Director, Buildings at Crown Commercial Service
This article was originally published in Public Sector Executive.