Public Services > Central Government

CCS won’t award Lot 1 of Management Consultancy Framework

David Bicknell Published 04 September 2017

Whitehall procurement arm blames a “construct error” in Lot 1 criteria “which did not adequately assess bidders’ “quality of delivery”; a new procurement exercise will follow


The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has said it will not award Lot 1 of the Management Consultancy Framework, which covers business consultancy services on the framework (RM3745).

It follows an announcement in July that CCS would not be announcing the award results of Phase 1 of the framework on July 21l. A subsequent statement said that there would be an update on July 31, which was then followed by a ‘broadcast message’ on August 18.

Now, by way of explanation that Lot 1 will not be awarded, CCS has told suppliers, “There was a construct error in the criteria for Lot 1 which did not adequately assess the Bidder's quality of delivery to the level required. CCS identified the error and is now quickly taking action to provide a solution that will meet customer needs.

It went on, “It is in the interest of all parties to get a solution in place in the most effective and compliant way as soon as possible. A further procurement exercise will be undertaken and the scope of services will be broader to ensure that the framework can meet customer needs.

“A Prior Information Notice (PIN) reference RM6008 will be issued shortly to allow CCS to engage with the market to achieve this.”

Suppliers, however, suggest there is little realistic prospect of CCS getting a PIN, an OJEU notice and a tender notice out by the end of the year, which is when the already extended ConsultancyOne framework expires.

A CCS spokesperson said: "Lots 2 and 3 of the Management Consultancy Framework have been awarded and are available for use. Lot 1, which covers business consultancy services, has not been awarded.

“The new prior information notice (Management Consultancy Framework Two) has been issued as part of our ongoing engagement with suppliers. The intention is to award this framework in 2018. The remaining lots on the Management Consultancy Framework will be awarded in October 2017. We are working hard to support customers through this period."

The Management Consultancy Framework has already caused considerable headaches for CCS.

Earlier in the year, it told companies bidding for the framework that in terms of details of “previous supply”, which is necessary for would-be providers to show that they can demonstrate capacity under the framework, the requirement would be 2200 days over three years, and not one year.

It followed complaints from procurement specialists and SMEs that a 2200-day bar in one year was too high for many smaller companies to reach, meaning that there was perhaps a perception that the framework had a bias towards larger management consultancy providers.

The delay is likely to upset suppliers, especially SMEs, who have invested scarce time and resources in tendering for the framework.

CCS’ relationships with some suppliers may also not be helped by the organisation deciding to up its fees.

CCS recently doubled its “management fee” to 10% for the Spend Analysis and Recovery Services) II framework, RM3820, the invitation to tender (ITT) for which was recently issued.

The management charge is 10% of all charges for services invoiced to contracting authorities by the supplier (net of VAT) in each month throughout the framework period. Previously, CCS’ management fee was 5%.

Discussing the increase, a CCS spokesperson said, "In shaping our next generation Spend Analysis & Recovery Services framework, we engaged with existing and potential customers and suppliers to garner their input on what worked well and how we could improve the framework.  One key message from all parties was that they wanted CCS to work more closely with suppliers to support them through the process. This is more labour intensive and requires extra resources.

"In recognition of the additional resource required, the management charge has been increased by 5% from the previous framework.  The fairness of this charge was recognised in supportive feedback from many potential suppliers when the PIN was issued earlier this year."

One SME complained that CCS were taking a large slice of SME profits, which appears to run counter to previously stated CCS policies, while another supplier suggested it was “pretty concerned” about the "apparent randomness of activity" in CCS and the Government Digital Service.

He added, "Maybe it was always thus and I’m just getting to learn the whimsical nature of government. In our capitalist model free markets do seem to supply government with technology. The oligopoly distorted the market, so G-Cloud redressed some of the balance and, to some degree, I think they have reaped rewards of savings and speed and better outcomes."

He continued, "In my G-Cloud pond we are delivering savings, speed, innovation and demonstrable advances in outcomes. This is due in large part to the door being held open for SMEs and reasonable efforts to set and maintain standards and transparency on G-Cloud." He added, however, that things were "not perfect, still on ‘a journey’, and were now lacking direction and leadership."

Rob Driver, head of public sector for techUK commented, “techUK supports the Crown Commercial Service on a range of Market Engagement activity, including discovery workshops and market briefings for specific frameworks. We work closely with government on the wider SME and Innovation agenda of which the above engagement is a fundamental part of. Key relevant recommendations are included in our work to achieve the Smarter State , and our ongoing programme to deliver Government Procurement for Innovation and Growth . On this latter point, we will be launching our annual SME Survey in October, and be publishing a revised version of our ‘Procuring for Innovation and Growth’ report in November.”


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