Government publishes “playbook” in attempt to overhaul Whitehall outsourcing

In attempts to improve procurement and outsourcing, ministers have revealed more details on a new “playbook” which intends to ensure collapses like Carillion are not seen again.

With Whitehall under increased scrutiny since the demise of Carillion in January 2018, the Outsourcing Playbook will state that responsibility for outsourced public sector contracts should “sit with the party best able to manage them”.

Launched by cabinet office minister Oliver Dowden today, the new guidelines will see the government take on more risk and inform those within Whitehall that a “more considered” approach is needed.

The playbook will attempt to change the relationship between itself and suppliers to help contracts work better for both.

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

The move follows industry-wide outsourcing issues which was seen most notably just over 12 months ago when the former industry giant Carillion folded with multimillion pound contracts unfinished, £800m of liabilities and a pension deficit estimated to be just short of £1bn.

Back in November, chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, David Lidington, announced new measures to deliver better public services and use contracts as a “force for good”. 

The cabinet office minister revealed that by summer 2019, government procurements would be required to take social and economic benefits into account in certain priority areas.

The benefits that departments need to consider in their procurements by this summer:

  • Helping access for small businesses
  • Helping access for businesses owned by under-represented groups
  • Increased representation of disabled people in the workforce
  • Reduced environmental impact
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