Another look at the Permanent Recruitment 2 framework

Crown Commercial Services launched its Permanent Recruitment 2 framework earlier this year. Government Business recaps what it’s all about

Crown Commercial Services (CCS)’ Permanent Recruitment 2 framework enables all public sector organisations to access recruitment services to hire permanent, fixed-term and internal secondment roles through recruitment agencies. Organisations are able to access general recruitment services to search for and hire candidates for a specific role or job. The framework applies to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Who is it for?
Those who can use the framework include all ministerial government departments; non-ministerial government departments; executive agencies of government and other subsidiary bodies; civil service bodies, including public sector buying organisations; all non-crown status government companies wholly or partly owned by central government departments and their subsidiaries; the non-departmental public bodies, other public bodies, public corporations and their subsidiary bodies sponsored by central government departments which are not covered by the above categories; or all new bodies created which fall within the criteria set out above
    
The framework will also provide a way to hire clinical roles through the general recruitment service.
    
The new framework replaces the current Permanent Recruitment Solutions framework which is due to expire in November 2022.
    
Recruiters will compete to find a suitable candidate and will only get paid if they successfully fill the role – general recruitment is a non-exclusive contingency model service. The recruitment agencies will help public sector organisations to recruit one or more candidates for clinical and non-clinical roles.
    
Suppliers need not be able to provide on a national basis, but should be able to provide recruitment services in and outside of London and the south east, as well as where civil service and public servants are located throughout the UK – this is not restricted to large cities. This is important given the government drive to move civil service jobs out of the capital. The Supplier Capability Matrix provides information on the locations that suppliers are able to provide services for. All suppliers are able to attend virtual meetings.
    
The new framework will provide access to individual candidate placements for clinical and non-clinical roles. Services are available in a modular format if required.
    
The framework is not to be used for hiring temporary labour. This should be done through other CCS agreements.
    
The Permanent Recruitment 2 framework is part of the Workforce Alliance portfolio, which provides an additional access route to the framework for the NHS. A partnership between CCS and NHS Procurement in Partnership, the Workforce Alliance brings together a range of procurement and commercial expertise with the intention of benefitting the NHS.
    
The Workforce Alliance claims: “Nobody is better placed to help you meet the challenges of NHS staffing. As a team of health workforce experts, we are motivated by a genuine desire to make the NHS better. You can trust us to act in the best interests of the NHS – always putting patient care first.”

Services
The core services of the Permanent Recruitment 2 framework include search services, to allow organisations to find applicants, tools for the evaluation of applicants and the ability to appoint an applicant to the role.
    
Non-core services of the Permanent Recruitment 2 framework include services for strategy and planning to help organisations plan for recruitment gaps and help them ensure they have the right people with the right skills. This is essential at the moment, with employers struggling to fill roles and a well-documented digital skills gap.
    
Non-core services of the framework also include services for talent development with the intention of helping organisations develop a talent pool of potential applicants with the needed skillset.
    
Public sector organisations will be able to access all core and non-core services and will have the flexibility to choose which services to add to their call offs.
    
The new agreement will run for two years and has the option to extend for up to two years if necessary.
    
Under the agreement, there is no maximum length for a call off contract, though CCS is recommending that it should not be any longer than four years.

Benefits
CCS has listed a number of potential benefits of the new framework. One such benefit is that hiring managers and departments have the ability to choose who they engage with from the supplier list and how they do this. With 157 suppliers listed, organisations will have a large choice.
    
CCS has also claimed that those hiring will be able to access capable suppliers, leading to increased fill rates. This will also avoid repeated campaign costs.
    
The ability to direct award could save organisations time and money, by avoiding a long and costly recruitment process.
    
Capped maximum costs are intended to protect contracting authorities from market price increases. This is important with the current inflation rate and the cost-of-living crisis.    
    
The framework also boasts no hidden costs as everything is included in the cost of the service. This includes methods of attracting candidates including social media, digital campaigns and job boards. This also includes the cost of travel, subsistence and lodging; document or report reproduction; shipping; desktop or office equipment costs; network or data interchange costs or other telecommunications charges; and costs incurred prior to the commencement of any call-off contract.
    
As suppliers are obliged to work towards civil service diversity and inclusion requirements, contracting authorities should, as a result, be further on the way to achieving their own diversity and inclusion requirements.    
    
Listed suppliers must also develop an employer value proposition (EVP) to ensure candidates want to work for the contracting authority’s organisation. An EVP includes any benefits that the candidate will receive for their work, including pay, learning and development opportunities and the culture of the organisation.
    
The framework also includes discounts for hiring more than one supplier.
    
The framework provides a compliant route to candidates for permanent roles via recruitment agencies. The terms and conditions will also stay consistent.
    
Also included are Mandatory Core services which cover identification, attraction, evaluation and offer stages of recruitment activity. As mentioned above, core services are available in a modular fashion.
    
Non-core modular services are also available which cover Strategy and Planning, Talent Development Services, Technology Service, Project PRO and more.
    
The supplier prospectus details the recruitment agencies that are available and the specialist areas they cover. These areas could include digital or HR. Supplier Specialisms are detailed to ensure access to niche and boutique specialist recruitment agencies which includes SMEs.
    
CCS also offers support available from their customer and agreement management teams to help organisations and suppliers. This can be accessed on their website.

Lots
Lot 1 is for Clinical General Recruitment and lists 52 suppliers.
    
Lot 2 is for Non-Clinical General Recruitment and lists 115 suppliers.
    
Public Sector organisations can buy from the framework using direct award or further competition. They can also use an Expression of Interest (EOI) which allows organisations to go to suppliers with their needs and measure the interest of suppliers.
    
If suppliers do not respond to an EOI or decline their interest, they do not need to be invited to the main tender.
    
Organisations are encouraged to read the Customer Guide document before purchasing from this agreement. The Customer Guide includes information on who can access the framework, the scope of the framework and the features and benefits. It also includes information on lot selection and lot requirements, framework prices and standards and insurances. Information is also available to guide buyers through the process and how it works.
    
The guide forms part of a suite of guidance and template documents to help organisations buy management consultancy via the framework.
    
Buyers are also reminded to follow the Cabinet Office spend controls and ensure that procurement is in line with the relevant Cabinet Office Playbooks, including the Cabinet Office Sourcing Playbook.

Further competition
Organisations are able to use further competition to buy from the agreement.
    
A further competition involves inviting two or more suppliers to bid for a certain requirement. Suppliers will be asked a series of questions, along with a price for the stipulated services. This is known as “award criteria”. The award criteria should be in line with the award criteria for the framework.
    
Suppliers may be able to offer discounted rates than those provided in their framework prices during a further competition.
    
CCS said: “A successful further competition does not need to be complicated, or take a long time, but will take some planning and consideration. There are many different ways in which a further competition can be conducted, so please ensure you consult with your organisation’s commercial team, or the CCS Legal Services team, if you are uncertain or not confident in conducting one.”
    
In order to run a further competition, public sector organisations will need to follow a set of steps. Firstly, they will need to define their requirements – they are able to do this by using template T2 Attachment 3 Statement of Requirements. They will then need to establish which lot is most suitable for their needs (Lot 1 is for Clinical General Recruitment and Lot 2 is for Non-Clinical General Recruitment).
    
Organisations can then issue an optional request for information. They should then develop tender documents.
    
Following this, the buyer should identify the suppliers who are capable of meeting the needs of the organisation, using the Supplier Capability Matrix to help with this.
    
Appropriate timescales for procurement should be established and EOI can then be issued if desired.
    
Tenders can then be issued to all the suppliers identified and their responses should then be evaluated.
    
Finally, a contract may be awarded to the successful supplier(s) and unsuccessful suppliers should be notified.
    
An optional 10-day standstill period may be included before awarding this contract.
    
Public sector organisations are able to use their own eSourcing system or the eSourcing tool of CCS to run their further competition. First-time users of CCS’s eSourcing suite will need to register an account.
    
When deciding award criteria for further competition, with regards to price, life cycle costs, cost effectiveness and price and running costs should be considered.
    
With regards to quality, effort should be made to focus questioning on the areas which differentiate between suppliers. This could include social value, approach to the delivery of services, implementation, use of supply chain and partners and innovation.
    
A buyer may also choose to consider how well a supplier can demonstrate their understanding of the work, including how well they will mitigate for any key issues and risks and the experience and credentials of the key staff.

Direct Award
Public sector organisations are also able to direct award without holding a further competition. In order to do this, they will need to develop their specification and review the Supplier Capability Matrix to establish which suppliers are able to meet their needs – as is the case with further competition.
    
They will then need to develop their direct award criteria and apply it to the prospectuses for each capable supplier to establish which supplier provides the best value for money.
    
They can then contact the supplier that they have selected and provide them with the specification so that they can complete their conflict-of-interest checks and confirm that they have the relevant capability and capacity.
    
After this, public sector organisations can award the call-off contract with the supplier by sending a completed and signed Framework Schedule 6 Order Form Template and Call-Off Schedules. The order form template should be promptly signed and returned by the supplier – this can be done electronically.
    
CCS said: “Direct awards are normally very quick to complete, given that you can engage with your selected supplier directly.”
    
To decide on a supplier for direct award, when evaluating price, consider framework prices and the likely time it could take a supplier to undertake the work. When evaluating quality, an assessment should be included based on the relevant sections of the prospectus such as overview, social value and applicable specialisms.
    
The framework includes a filtering tool to help buyers shortlist suppliers. The user can select the services required and the tool will show a list of suppliers that meet these requirements. The tool will be available on the framework site.

How to decide
In order to decide which procedure to use, there are a number of things to consider. Further competition should be considered if an organisation has a number of similar requirements that can be included in an overarching call-off contract or if a buyer thinks that competition will help to differentiate between suppliers with regard to the quality of their ability to act. Further competition should also be considered if it is considered that a competition will be able to demonstrate savings that are above the cost of the time spent on the procurement process or if there are a number of suppliers that would be able to undertake the work to an acceptable standard in roughly the same amount of time.
    
Further competition should also be considered if the buyer is looking to understand different ways that a supplier could approach a matter and to see the benefits each approach could have. This could include for example, the use of automation or process workflows.
    
Finally, further competition can be used if a requirement or project will be ongoing for a number of months or years, or if the buyer is looking to engage a number of suppliers as a result of the competition. This could include co-partnering.
    
On the other hand, direct award should be considered if the cost of running a further competition will likely outweigh any savings that could be made by running a competition. CCS recommends this route if the legal fees are expected to be less than £50,000 in total.
    
Direct award can also be used if a buyer doesn’t have the time to run a further competition and needs to engage a supplier quickly. Direct award saves a lot of time compared to further competition.
    
If a buyer is satisfied from the prospectuses that they can select a supplier to perform the work to the required standard using the direct award criteria, direct award can be used.
    
Finally, direct award should be considered, if a supplier is currently undertaking the work or has previous experience or background of doing the work and using them provides better value for money than engaging a new supplier would.
    
Regardless of which call-off procedure is used, the inclusion of Social Value should also be considered. This includes effective stewardship of the environment, tackling workforce inequality and improving diversity and improving health and wellbeing.
    
Each supplier listed has already committed to delivering against these policy outcomes and the details of this are provided in the prospectuses.
    
Other social values to consider include Covid-19 recovery, tackling economic inequality, fighting climate change, equal opportunity and wellbeing.
    
Before engaging an external supplier, public sector organisations should consider whether the work can be carried out by the internal human resources team, or the Government Recruitment Service if applicable.

Call-off contract
A call-off contract is necessary for direct award and further competition. It is the legal terms under which a supplier is engaged to undertake the work required. The main legal terms of a call-off contract include core terms which form part of the framework and every call-off contract. They are made up of a single set of clauses and cannot be changed. Also included are framework schedules which are unique to the framework contract; call-off schedules which are unique to each call-off contract; and joint schedules: these apply at framework and call-off level.

Prices
Framework prices are submitted by suppliers during the framework tender. The prices are based on salary bandings under all call-off contracts.
    
Suppliers are not allowed to add any charges above these framework prices to their call-off contracts.
    
In calculating the cost of a direct award, suppliers must use these framework prices – though during further competitions, it is possible to agree other fee structures and suppliers are able to apply lower rates than their framework prices.
    
Rebates are not defined at framework level, though they can be introduced at call off. They must be well defined and in full agreement with the supplier.

Standards
All suppliers must comply with a set of standards throughout the duration of the framework and each call off contract: ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems, or equivalent; ISO/IEC 27001 Information Security Management Systems, or equivalent; ISO/IEC 27002:2013 Information Technology: Security Techniques Code of Practice for information security controls or equivalent; ISO/IEC 27031:2011 Information technology: Security techniques - Guidelines for information and communication technology readiness for business continuity or equivalent; ISO 22301:2019 Security and resilience: Business continuity management systems: Requirements or equivalent; and ISO 22313:2020 Security and resilience: Business continuity management systems: Guidance on the use of ISO 22301 or equivalent.
    
All framework suppliers must also hold a Cyber Essentials Certificate or equivalent.

Insurance
Suppliers are also required to hold the following insurance as a minimum: professional indemnity insurance: with cover (for a single event or a series of related events and in the aggregate) of not less than one million pounds (£1,000,000); public liability insurance: with cover (for a single event or a series of related events and in the aggregate) of not less than five million pounds (£5,000,000); and employers’ liability insurance: with cover (for a single event or a series of related events and in the aggregate) of not less than five million pounds (£5,000,000).

Buyer responsibility
Throughout the process, buyers should ensure that they comply with their organisation’s governance processes. They should also take any legal advice they feel appropriate when deciding what award procedure to use, and when drafting tender documentation, call-off contracts, pricing schedules and award questions.
    
Those doing the recruitment should also ensure that they have the necessary authority and approval to use external recruitment support.
    
The nature of the approval process will depend on the organisation and guidance on this can usually be found on an organisation’s intranet page. The commercial or procurement team should also be able to advise. E
 It is likely that the person doing the recruiting will need to get a business case and budget approved by the relevant stakeholders. The following people should be consulted: business stakeholder, to support the business case and the engagement as a whole; internal HR function as they may be able to assist in developing requirements and supervising the matter or working with the Framework supplier, as appropriate; the budget holder for the relevant department of your organisation as they will need to confirm that there is sufficient budget allocated for your requirement; and finally, the commercial or procurement team as they may be able to support in procuring legal services. This may include the use of the procurement portal and can ensure the correct internal governance has been undertaken.

Recommendations
CCS recommends early engagement with suppliers. They said: “Early engagement with suppliers before issuing your tender documents can help suppliers better understand your needs, whilst helping you develop a more focused specification. This could lead to a more efficient tendering process and has the potential to increase supplier interest, attract innovative solutions and reduce potential clarifications.”
    
They also suggest getting suppliers to sign a non-disclosure agreement if sensitive information is being shared.
    
Other recommendations from CCS include engaging with all suppliers in the chosen framework lot to make them aware of the opportunity; issuing a request for information (RFI) if market intelligence is required or there is a specific question; issuing an expression of interest (EOI) to gauge the level of interest from suppliers; using the CCS eSourcing portal or your own procurement portal to provide an audit trail; and sharing draft documents (including specification) with all lot suppliers for feedback.

Tools
CCS has made a number of tools available to help buyers identify the right supplier. These tools include the Capability Matrix, a table which identifies which supplier is able to provide which of the core and non-core modules for the professions and regions required.
    
Each supplier also has a prospectus which provides information on the organisation and their experience and expertise. The prospectuses can be found on the framework webpage. These can be used to select suppliers for direct award and can also be used to invite suppliers for further competitions and Expressions of Interest (EoI).
    
An EoI can be used to identify which suppliers have the capability and capacity to meet requirements. CCS said: “EoIs can be very useful at shortlisting suppliers to invite to a further competition, understanding supplier’s capacity and capability restrictions and also gauging any potential conflicts of interest.”
    
After an EoI, suppliers can be invited to a conference call, where further details of the requirement can be shared. Suppliers can then ask questions.

Further Information: 

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