Consultants attack buying framework

Efforts to centralise consultancy procurement are not working, according to the Management Consultancies Association (MCA), and may thwart “government’s stated aims of securing efficiency”.

By Suzannah.Brecknell

12 Jun 2014

The MCA’s annual report, published on Monday, found that use of management consulting has grown slightly in the public sector, but “problems in how consultancy is bought remain”.

The Cabinet Office’s “well intentioned centralising tendency for procurement” risks undermining savings, says the report, because it separates procurement from strategic decision-making in departments.

The report says that there is “conspicuous ‘gaming’” of the centralised framework, and notes that reforms have not increased supplier diversity. Unless the Cabinet Office’s procurement frameworks and teams “are re-imagined less as a police force and more as a shared service”, the MCA warns, departments may simply continue to find ways round them.

Consulting fee income from the public sector grew by 3.4% in 2013, though overall income remains around half of 2009 levels. This 3.4% rise was largely fuelled by the increased use of consultants in local government.

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