UK Government Consultancy Procurement – What’s Goin’ On with ConsultancyOne?

We wrote about Bill Crothers yesterday and an interesting comment highlighted one aspect of his responsibility that is looking a little problematical at the moment - this was also picked up by Supply Management yesterday.

The ConsultancyONE framework tendering exercise being led by Government Procurement Service has been delayed again. The results of the Pre-Qualification process now won’t be out until September apparently. The contract was advertised last November, and the original timetable showed the results of the PQQ phase being published in February 2012! That was delayed until May we believe initially, then July, now till September.

What’s goin' on, we asked Cabinet Office, and got this response.

“GPS 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”.

That doesn't really tell us what the cause is. It's hard to believe that the work over the months to date has not been thorough and robust, or has not treated suppliers “with equal consideration”?

Or is it that Crothers didn’t like the PQQ results when they were presented to him for approval? Or that he and others perhaps are worried that the process wasn’t / isn't as watertight as it needs to be to avoid supplier challenge? It may be that the task of trying to get consistency across the 800 odd PQQs received really is requiring a lot more time than expected - ultimately, I guess it is better to get it right even with delays than do it faster and make mistakes.

We don’t know. But whatever we think, this is now hurting the reputation of the Government Procurement Service in the professional services community and perhaps more widely. Remember, the Partners in the big consulting firms often have the ears of Ministers and top civil servants, more so than many senior procurement people, so that’s bad news for the positioning of procurement generally around government, and more particularly the image of GPS.

Here's what Fiona Czerniawska, industry expert, my co-author and Director of Source for Consulting said -

"Consulting firms could be forgiven for thinking that these new delays in the framework’s implementation are yet more proof that this is a mechanism for reducing consulting spend rather than one that results in more intelligent buying."

Anyway, whatever lies behind these problems, let's hope this is the final, final delay.

Voices (2)

  1. Janine Baker:

    Think you are spot on with the article. Whilst they said the procurement was SME friendly, it was not. You needed to show three case studies for £100k+ consultancy assignments where you had benefits, outcomes or return on investment signed off by Government departments, which clearly will favour the big boys who have their friendly clients who will sign off anything. Coupled with this, Government Procurement Service has re-extended the Multi Disciplinary Consultancy framework (which is populated by their favoured suppliers like Capgemini, Deloitte, Detica, KPMG, McKinsey, PWC). This was originally due to expire in March 2011 after its four year lifespan, then was extended (with questionable legal basis) to March 2012 and has now been extended to September 2012.

  2. colin cram:

    I suspect that the expectations for Consultancy1 have changed during the course of the tendering exercise. The early focus of the GPS was to save money. However, since Consultancy1 started, the economy has continued to flat-line and the government has increasingly focused on increasing business with SMEs and now may see procurement as increasingly essential in helping drive economic growth. Many SMEs saw the tender exercise as being SME unfriendly and didn’t bid. However, consultancy is an area ripe for using SMEs, but to have many of those on the framework would imply more resources to be used in contracts management, which doesn’t sit well with the GPS Lean Procurement approach. Put simply, Consultancy1 may be a victim of changing political priorities.

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