Commissioning academy launched to strengthen commercial skills

Commissioners from across the public sector can now apply to join a virtual Commissioning Academy, launched last week.

By Civil Service World

06 Feb 2013

The academy is being funded by the Cabinet Office, with support from the Local Government Association, the Ministry of Justice, and the communities, education, health, and work and pensions departments.

The first cohort will join the academy in April 2013. They’ll study topics including outcome-based commissioning; market engagement and development; and joint commissioning across organisational boundaries.

Speaking at the launch of the academy, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said: “At the moment there are still too many authorities and public bodies and government departments where commissioning approaches remain unimaginative, too focused on process and too risk-averse.” While there are “exemplary commissioning authorities pioneering new, innovative approaches to redesigning services,” he added, “until now there’s been no consistently effective way of sharing best practise across different areas and sectors.”

The academy is open to senior commissioners only – SCS1 or above – and applicants must be supported by their director general or chief executive. Successful applicants will be placed into cohorts by the Cabinet Office, with each cohort designed to provide a good mix of participants from across the public sector.

Participants will complete an eight-day course spread over six months, including both online and face-to-face sessions. They’ll then develop a 100-day plan to transform their employer’s commissioning.

Maude attacked the “widespread perception” that commissioning and procurement work are “back-office” activities, arguing that “getting outcomes from commissioning requires leadership and accountability – people at the highest level engaging, understanding the problem and exercising their judgement on major commissioning decisions.”

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