28 February 2019 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
An 'Outsourcing Playbook', designed to improve how government works with industry to deliver better public services, has been launched by Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden.
The Outsourcing Playbook guidance will ensure that the government starts projects by engaging with "a diverse and healthy marketplace of companies, including small businesses and charities, and is ready for the rare occasions when things go wrong".
This follows reforms announced in recent months by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, David Lidington, to ensure that government procurement is fit for the future, including making social values more central to public service delivery.
New measures include changes to how government allocates risk between itself and its suppliers, to guarantee that contracts are set up for success and the public is provided with the best possible service.
The government is also taking steps to improve the design of outsourcing projects from their inception.
New complex contracts will be piloted with the private sector before they are fully rolled out, 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."
He added that the announcements would "provide reassurance that the playbook makes explicit that, when designing contracts, departments must seek 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."
Jon Lewis, the CEO of Capita, one of the suppliers which government worked with to develop the new measures, said: "Capita is working closely with government to develop these reforms. This is a sea change, both recognising the vital contribution the private sector makes in delivering first-rate public services, and then finding ways to do this even better. These new ways of working will place a stronger focus on establishing partnerships based on mutual trust and a joint focus on positive outcomes. This is fundamental to the successful procurement and delivery of public sector contracts."
Further measures in the Playbook include suppliers drawing up plans in the unlikely event of business failure, and requiring them to publish key performance data - all announced by Lidington in recent months.
See the Outsourcing Playbook here.