The Cabinet Office has set out the thinking that will guide the way the civil service sources temporary staff when the current Contingent Labour One (CL1) framework comes to an end in June.
CL1 went live in 2013 and aimed to centralise sourcing of temporary workers across government under a single deal.
Lot One of the contract is currently run by outsourcing giant Capita, which oversees the recruitment of specialists and interim managers. That element of the contract has come under fire from some small and medium-sized recruiters, however, who have expressed concern that they are marginalised by the current arrangement – allegations the outsourcing firm has denied.
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Publishing a summary of its requirements for the new deal – dubbed the "Temporary Worker Contracting Vehicle", and with an expected value of up to £5bn – the central Crown Commercial Service said it was "looking to develop a new and innovative long term contracting solution" to replace CL1.
According to the CCS, the new deal is likely to be "split into specific solutions" but will initially focus on "hard to fill requirements for specialist interim contractors" in the fields of digital, cyber and legacy technology.
It will, the CCS said, be broadened out to include administrative staff, operational workers, interim managers and specialist contractors, while the document says CSS "is also considering how this could expand to other areas", including "creating an eco-system for temporary workers to track performance and easily transition workers between contracting bodies".
The exploratory document places a heavy emphasis on digital skills, saying the new arrangement must take into account Whitehall's "need for specialist technical resources to drive digital transformation".
It adds: "There is a desire to understand how the market is evolving in terms of trends, emergence of new technologies and innovation with regards to commercial models and methodologies to deliver a fit for purpose contracting vehicle. Crown Commercial Service also need to understand the specific challenges facing the provision of specialist contingent labour resources."
A recent National Audit Office (NAO) highlighted the civil service's continued reliance on temporary help at a time of tight resources.
The spending watchdog found that while departments had “substantially” reduced their spending on consultants and temporary staff over the past five years, spending had begun to creep back up again the last three years, suggesting only a “short-term reduction rather than a sustainable strategy”.
And it warned that there would “continue to be upward pressure” on the use of consultants and temporary staff against the backdrop of the latest round of spending cuts.
A separate NAO survey of Whitehall tech chiefs also found concern about the civil service's ability to recruit and retain staff with the right digital skills.
Temporary Worker Contracting Vehicle - via Contracts Finder