Acknowledging the power of purchasing

The Crown Commercial Service brings together policy, advice and direct buying; providing commercial services to the public sector and saving money for the taxpayer. Government Business analyses the latest news, policies and advice from the government department.

The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) brings policy, advice and direct buying together in a single organisation to: make savings for customers in both central government and the wider public sector; achieve maximum value from every commercial relationship; and improve the quality of service delivery for common goods and services across government.

Working with over 1,400 organisations in the public sector, CCS’s services are provided by more than 2,600 suppliers. The CCS is responsible for: managing the procurement of common goods and services, so public sector organisations with similar needs achieve value by buying as a single customer; improving supplier and contract management across government; increasing savings for the taxpayer by centralising buying requirements for common goods and services and bringing together smaller projects; and leading on procurement policy on behalf of the UK government.

The CCS is in place to make sure that small and medium‑sized enterprises (SMEs) have access to government contract opportunities, making it easier for them to do business with the government, and making sure that 25 per cent of government’s spend, either directly or in supply chains, goes to SMEs.

Additionally, CCS makes sure that departments publish details of future projects and contracts on the Contracts Finder website every six months, giving businesses the confidence and time to invest in relevant skills, labour and capabilities to win these contracts. It works to obtain simpler, more flexible EU procurement rules in Brussels to support economic growth by making the procurement process faster, less costly and more effective for both business and procurers; this will affect more than £45 billion of central government spend (more than £230 billion for the UK public sector) every year.

This will help commissioners of public services to become more effective through the Commissioning Academy and use commercial intelligence more effectively to improve the value gained from contracts across government.

Terms and conditions
As a guide for suppliers and buyers there is a standard set of terms and conditions for framework agreements and call-off contracts for goods and services bought under the agreement. The template for call-off contracts forms the basis of the terms and conditions in individual further competitions and can be supplemented or refined with additional terms to suit the requirement.

All CCS suppliers must submit monthly management information (MI) returns. This is done online through the MISO system. You will need to include the unique reference number (URN) for each customer listed on the return. Failure to submit MI returns correctly or within the agreed timescales may incur admin fees.

The CCS is updating its internal Customer Relationship Management system and as a result the weekly downloadable list of URNs will be changing. The existing sheet of four tabs will reduce to three, listing all live URNs with customer details, a second detailing merges and a third detailing name changes. Legacy tabs will be added for the time being showing older changes that are not present on the new system. The sub-sector is now known as organisation type and is being updated to better and more accurately describe the organisation within its sector. CCS has signed a preferential public sector pricing agreement with Huddle for secure Cloud collaboration tools. The agreement for Cloud collaboration tools will help teams securely share files, manage projects and collaborate on content, projects and programmes of work.

With UK data centres to protect the sovereignty of organisations’ data, and the ability for users to maintain a full and transparent audit trail of all activities, Huddle provides a secure platform for managing information that is rated as ‘official’ under the Government Security Classification Policy. The technology is already used in many central and local government organisations, as well as other public sector bodies, including the NHS and a variety of arm’s length bodies and charitable organisations. Huddle’s public sector-specific pricing is available to all public sector bodies that purchase through G-Cloud on the Digital Marketplace.

Sarah Hurrell, commercial director, said: “The preferential pricing scheme we have introduced with Huddle will improve the way technology is bought across government and the public sector, and will contribute to increased savings to the public purse.”

Cyber Security Consultancy
The CCS has worked with the Communications-Electronic Security Group (CESG) to develop a new central route to market for the public sector to buy CESG Certified Cyber Security Consultancy services.
The resulting Cyber Security Services agreement (RM3764) is now available to all central government departments, arm’s length bodies and wider public sector organisations.

The agreement offers: risk assessment; risk management; security architecture; support for business critical Cloud and digital requirements; CESG certified suppliers (suppliers will continue to be added to the agreement as they successfully complete their CESG certification for each service); a flexible, agile procurement and contracting approach; and competitive further competition buying process.

Additional services that are to be added during 2016 include: audit and review; incident management; information assurance methodologies; and policy and standards.
The agreement offers: easy access to CESG Certified Cyber Security Consultancy suppliers; cost savings (because requirements are competitively tendered); time savings (because there’s no need to run OJEU); simple, transparent ‘agile’ pricing; commitment based on short sprints and Statements of Work (SoW) under a no commitment call-off agreement; choice of duration commitments that can be terminated early at the end of current SoW; and volume discounts based on duration.

The agreement is beneficial in that it gives: assurance of each suppliers’ cyber security service, knowing that they have been assessed and certified by CESG; an easy, templated, flexible further competition process; a flexible contract with no commitment to you at call-off, allowing you to raise iterative Statements of Work’s with the supplier, working in an agile, Sprint by Sprint; government specific terms and conditions; and a growing pool of suppliers, as they complete their CESG certification, throughout the life of the agreement.

Additionally, the supplier’s maximum day rates have been agreed: meaning that they can’t charge you more than what they have specified at framework level. Suppliers can reduce their rates through further competition tender against your specific customer requirements.

Procurement training for schools
The CCS works with organisations across the education sector including academies, free schools, colleges and universities to help them save money by using legally compliant deals for commonly required goods and services.

It has put together a collection of documents that bring together best practice guidance, brochures and newsletters outlining how CCS can help education organisations access value for money deals and meet the regulations surrounding how public money is spent.

The CCS and Department for Education (DfE) have created a set of self‑service introductory level public procurement training sessions for school staff with budget or buying responsibility. The bite size modules are designed to be used for group training sessions and are aimed at senior leadership teams, school business managers and governors/trustees in all local-authority-maintained schools, academies and free schools.

The 12 modules, complete with trainer notes, provide a cost-effective route to improving procurement skills in your school by helping you understand public procurement legislation and share effective best practice. Each module lasts from 15 to 50 minutes and follows a simple procurement cycle. The modules are: cost not price; analysing value; collaboration; creating a specification; finding suppliers; tender; negotiation; what is a contract?; contract management; risk management; leasing; and procurement legislation.

Public procurement boycotts
Guidance published in mid-February makes clear that procurement boycotts by public authorities are inappropriate, outside where formal legal sanctions, embargoes and restrictions have been put in place by the government. Town hall boycotts undermine good community relations, poisoning and polarising debate and weakening integration. Locally imposed boycotts can roll back integration as well as hinder Britain’s export trade and harm international relationship.

All contracting authorities will be impacted by this new guidance including central government, executive agencies, non-departmental public bodies, the wider public sector, local authorities and NHS bodies. Any public body found to be in breach of the regulations could be subject to severe penalties.

The World Trade Organisation Government Procurement Agreement – an international market access agreement – requires all those countries that have signed up to the Agreement to treat suppliers equally. This includes the EU and Israel. Any discrimination against Israeli suppliers involving procurements would therefore be in breach of the Agreement.

The newly published guidance complements existing government guidance about trading or investing overseas (including with Israel), where we advise UK businesses to consider any potential legal and economic risks of doing so. It is also in line with the government’s existing policy of support for clear and transparent labelling of settlement products to ensure that individual consumers are able to make informed choices before they buy. Cabinet Office Minister, Matthew Hancock said: “We need to challenge and prevent these divisive town hall boycotts. The new guidance on procurement combined with changes we are making to how pension pots can be invested will help prevent damaging and counter‑productive local foreign policies undermining our national security.

“We support UK local authorities, businesses and individual consumers alike in making informed choices about how they procure services and products from overseas.”

Local authority software applications
This agreement has been developed in conjunction with local authorities, the Local Government Association (LGA) and Pro5 to establish a route to market for the acquisition of software and related services to enable local authorities within the UK to deliver services to their citizens, such as revenue and benefits collection and payments and delivery of statutory functions such as social care, planning, environmental and building control, and provision of social housing.

Under the agreement suppliers are able to provide software and related services to include design, development, installation and commissioning of systems; ongoing support and maintenance; and some related business process services.

There are 11 lots to the Local Authority Software Applications agreement. Lot 1 covers the provision of software and associated services for the purpose of collection and distribution of revenue and benefit payments and National Non-Domestic Rates (NNDR). Lot 2 covers the provision of software and associated services for the purpose of payment processing and cash receipting.

Lot 3 includes the provision of software and associated services for environmental, planning, building control, trading standards and licensing, while Lot 4 instructs the provision of software and associated services for libraries. Lot 5 covers the provision of software and associated services for housing and property management.

Lot 6 comprises the provision of software and associated services for social care, Lot 7 deals with the provision of software and associated services for the purposes of monitoring and improving public health, while Lot 8 covers the provision of software and associated services for civil enforcement.

Lot 9 handles the provision of systems and services to create and improve openness, interoperability and data sharing between systems, citizens and staff and improve the experiences of system users and reduce costs of transactions/interactions. Lot 10 covers the provision of software and associated services for the purpose of democratic and citizen engagement, and Lot 11 includes the provision of software and associated services for other business systems including waste management, museums, sports and recreation, registrar, burials and crematoria and GIS.

The LGA estimates that local authorities spend up to £2.5bn each year in ICT markets, with £1bn (40 per cent) of this spent on sourcing and supporting all software applications. Analysis of relevant supplier incomes showed that they generate revenues of approximately £500m from the UK local government market for the applications intended to be covered by this procurement.

CCS led the procurement activity in partnership with Pro5, the London ICT Programme and the LGA. The procurement is designed to deliver parts of the LGA National Category Management Strategy for ICT in local government. Stakeholder engagement identified some key issues to address within this market which are: disjointed buying resulting in large disparity in price; poor service/outcomes delivered by suppliers; a lack on innovation; and a slow pace of change within the supply market.

Reaping the benefits
The agreement is for the purchase of common line of business application solutions for local authorities e.g. social care case management systems or library systems; and supporting services such as implementation, enhancement, integration and application support services. Main features and benefits include: Lot structure to identify specialist SME suppliers; increasing transparency of price through provision of catalogues, including support and maintenance; catalogues of available Application Programme Interfaces and Software Development Kits; co-ordinated SRM activity with local authority partners; tie-in to both central and wider public sector strategy, particularly the LGA ICT Commercial Strategy; removal of automatic price increases linked to indexation; and the use of Open Book terms, particularly important for support and maintenance costs.

This agreement can be accessed in a number of different ways, based on different factors including your requirements, size, drivers and targets, market knowledge, and preference. There is no requirement to register in order to use the agreement, however, if you want to use any of the CCS’s tools, such as the Government eMarketplace or eSourcing tool, you will need to register for access.

To use the agreement you should undertake the following steps: review the guidance documentation and specification; determine your requirement (this can be for software or a number of support services associated with the software market, or any combination of the above); and determine the best option for your procurement, direct award or further competition, and action this in line with the parameters outlined below.

When running a further competition, you should award on the basis of the most economically advantageous tender and must provide suppliers with the methodology behind the evaluation, including the evaluation criteria and weightings that are applied to each criterion. Under this agreement direct award and further competition may be used to place orders with the suppliers.

As the agreement has only recently been launched no savings have been claimed yet. However, in the future the following methodologies will apply for catalogue purchases. Savings are measured on a direct comparison with prices charged by that supplier in the previous calendar year and for contracts awarded by further competition, the suppliers’ provide management information which enables CCS to make comparisons between bids and establish any savings that have been achieved.

The agreement and call-offs include benchmarking provisions, open book pricing and have removed automatic price increases in line with indexes. There are also terms to allow customers to be fully open with each other about the prices they are receiving under the agreement.

Digital Services 2
This is the second iteration of the Digital Services agreement, with Digital Services 1 having expired on 8 August 2015. Digital Services is a dynamic style framework with the specific aim of helping the public sector buy, design, build and deliver digital services using an agile approach, by procuring the appropriate people and resources to deliver agile software development. The framework is based on the approach detailed in the Government Digital Service design manual and complies with the Digital by Default Standard. CCS has designed specific contract terms and conditions that reflect the flexible, iterative way of an agile approach.

For all central government (including arm’s length bodies and non-departmental public bodies) customers, CCS operates a managed procurement service, working with departments to buy as a single customer – the Crown.

The unit of measure and focus is the project team, purchased either as individual roles or purchased as a team made up of a number and type of roles to design, build and deliver digital services. Digital Services is based on a core set of digital capabilities. The catalogue on the Digital Marketplace lists these alongside 18 digital roles at either junior, intermediate or senior level.

Digital Services has been built to create a diverse pool of specialist agile service providers to enable government and the public sector move traditional services to a user centric design service, which is lower cost and flexible to enable continuous development and improvement. It specifically enables and supports the government Digital by Default strategy and Cloud adoption.

The Digital Services 2 commercial agreement has been designed, in collaboration with the Government Digital Service using an agile approach, starting with user needs and business outcomes, with lots of customer and supplier engagement, feedback and further iteration. Government terms and conditions have been specifically designed for the agile way of working, ensuring that project developed intellectual property rights (IPR) are owned by the customer and can be shared and re‑used with any other public sector customers.

For the first iteration of Digital Services, savings of £6.4 million were made against a spend of £14 million. As digital services are generally a new service with no previous spend to compare against, the benefit methodology is to take an average of all bids under the tender and compare to the winning bid.

The Digital Services 2 agreement supports the delivery of the Government Digital Strategy by: giving public sector customers easy access to suppliers with the right capabilities, who comply with the Digital by Default Standard and align with the Government Service Design Manual; providing a large, diverse pool of capable suppliers from small and medium size businesses to the agile practices of the traditional tier-one/system integration suppliers; ensuring supplier capacity to enable the delivery of digital projects at multiple UK locations; and providing a flexible and speedy route to meet customers’ digital project commissioning requirements.

The agreement is dynamic in style and regularly refreshed, following agile methodology in short delivery Sprint, learning from and incorporating lessons learned in the next iteration of the framework.

A managed procurement service
The Buyers’ Guide provides detailed information about how the agreement is set up and how to buy using the further competition process. In order to identify which suppliers you need to invite to tender, you can use the online Digital Marketplace catalogue which enables you to easily filter in all or any of the framework criteria including digital capability, digital role (junior, intermediate and senior levels), location and technology or language.

This means you can create a shortlist of suppliers to invite further competition from the longlist on the catalogue.

To find the Digital Services 2 templates and supplier lists: log in to the eSourcing system; hover over the RFX(s) tab at the top and click on ‘Manage RFX(s)’; click on the ‘Templates’ tab; scroll through to page 17 and you will find the template halfway down the page, look for ‘RM1043 Digital Services 2 Template’; do not click on the template name, instead scroll right and select the check box aligned with the template and then click on the tab ‘Create from Template’; and then you can create your RFP by completing the fields and clicking on ‘Save’.

The agreement is designed as a single lot with multiple search or filter criteria to help you identify capable suppliers including digital capability, role (junior, intermediate and senior levels), location and technology or language. CCS provides access to IT consultancy services through the following agreements: Digital Services; G-Cloud; ConsultancyONE; and Contingent LabourONE.

Technology Services
This agreement has been developed in collaboration with the Government Digital Service. It is an enabler for public sector organisations to take significant steps towards the Digital by Default agenda. Its primary purpose is to provide technology services to central government, local authorities and NHS trusts.

The agreement provides access to specialist suppliers who can provide the services under individual lots, as well as suppliers who can provide multiple services across a number of lots facilitated by means of a collaboration agreement. You can place call‑off contracts via a further competition by providing suppliers with the details of your requirement and each supplier will submit a priced solution against those requirements.

This agreement is the next iteration of its predecessor RM717 – IT Managed Services.

The agreement has been redesigned to comply with Government Digital Service requirements to disaggregate large and complex contracts. A lot structure has been adopted to accommodate this. This agreement has been designed to deliver local and regional IT services such as desktop; enterprise application managed services; computer rooms and local networks services by actively encouraging SMEs to participate.

The procurement to establish this agreement was aligned with the government ICT Strategy of March 2011 and supports the core objectives of: reducing waste and project failure, stimulating economic growth and using ICT to enable and deliver change. The agreement is fully managed by CCS. It will apply supplier relationship management principles to effectively manage the suppliers and continually monitor the cost of service packages and further competitions to ensure best value is maintained.

Discover the benefits
The benefits include reduced timescales and costs for the procurement of services – you do not need to run a full OJEU procurement, this has already been undertaken by the CCS. You simply need to identify your requirements, present these to the market and award a contract. The agreement is also easy to use, with expert commercial advice available from CCS.

Alternative solutions to longer term contracts and helps to ensure services and solutions are scalable for future service models, responding to business demand, enabling you to take advantage of the benefits of new and changing technologies. Additionally, a multi-vendor supply base environment taking advantage of the benefits available in the wider market and supporting the UK growth agenda through opening market opportunities to specialist small businesses.
Other benefits include: legality – the agreement is fully compliant with EU procurement regulations, EU procurement rules introduced in 2006 specifically recognise framework agreements as a legitimate route to market.

This reduces procurement risk for you and reduces bureaucracy in the procurement process; assured supplier standards – providers appointed are ‘prequalified’ as to their general suitability. This means when buying services you are assured that they can meet their specified requirements; pre-defined terms and conditions – terms and conditions of contract have been established and all agreement suppliers have signed and accepted this agreement and terms and conditions of call-off. You are able to propose your own special terms provided there is no material amendment to the agreement terms; and collaboration – suppliers are able to collaborate to provide a cross organisational services by way of the collaboration agreement.
In the first instance please read the customer buyer’s guide for full details on how you can access the agreement. A further competition is the default method for awarding call-off contracts.

You must provide the suppliers with a minimum set of information that can be used to help propose solutions and price against requirements effectively. If you require support in developing your market proposition, this can be procured through the use of our managed services or a private sector supplier.

Further competitions may be run using the CCS eSourcing tool or your own choice of eSourcing method/tool/portal. However, please note that the RFQ and/or Free Text Requisition functions provided on the government eMarketplace platform are not suitable or approved for use under this agreement.

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