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The Contract Management Pioneer Programme – boosting commercial capability across the public sector

CCS invests to boost commercial capability across local government - in partnership with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, the Local Government Association, and Cabinet Office.

Crown Commercial Service (CCS) and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities are investing to boost commercial capability across local government through a new contract management training programme.

Over the next 12 months almost 200 local government officers who are required to manage contracts as part of their duties will complete the Contract Management Pioneer Programme.

The training programme supports the Government’s agenda to build back better by ensuring that contracting authorities are able to effectively manage the key stages of commercial delivery.

It is funded by CCS, the UK’s largest public procurement organisation, and the Local Government Commercial Team in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, in collaboration with the Local Government Association. Training is delivered through the Cabinet Office and the Government Commercial College.

Six cohorts of local government officers with contract management responsibilities have begun training, with the first group having started in November 2021.

Simon Tse, CEO of Crown Commercial Service yesterday said: 

We are making this investment as part of the Government’s broader strategy to level up the country, boosting commercial capability and ensuring that local government has the tools and expertise it needs to get the best deal for the taxpayer.

With the opportunities presented by public procurement reform on the horizon, we are determined to help our partners across the public sector to play their part in building back better.

Olivia Cooper, Service Manager, Contract Management and Quality Assurance at Warwickshire County Council yesterday said:

Warwickshire County Council has been pleased to be part of the Pioneer Programme for the last six months. It combines knowledge and skills development through a structured learning programme with significant networking to drive the sharing of best practice and peer support. 

The stepped approach to learning has allowed us to roll training out to a number of colleagues at a level appropriate to their involvement with contract management, and we are also seeing a number of benefits from increased skills, knowledge, and peer support.

Developing commercial capability

Boosting the commercial capability of the public sector is at the heart of the Government’s National Procurement Policy Statement.

The statement requires all contracting authorities to consider whether they have the right policies and processes in place to manage the key stages of commercial delivery it sets out, where relevant to their procurement portfolio.

During 2020, the Local Government Association identified 32 local authorities most in need of contract management learning and development support – including some that have faced challenges recently over their management of commercial affairs.

These authorities were offered the opportunity to apply for training that would inform and drive organisational change around contract management. Identifying good practice, sharing evidence-led best practice, and embedding stronger behaviours for local authorities that manage contracts worth billions of pounds every year.

The programme

There are four elements to the Contract Management Pioneer Programme. 

  • Each attendee will complete the Government Commercial College Practitioner or Expert Level Accreditation in Contract Management
  • The learners will apply this knowledge to their own local authority – identifying what works, why it works, and how it works, in how they currently manage commercial contracts
  • All delegates will join a learner’s network to support their peers across local government
  • A Senior Responsible Owner from each council will join a network tasked with embedding learning, providing challenge, and helping the findings of the programme to be shared across local government

Following the programme, the Cabinet Office’s Capability team will select a sample of contracts from participating councils, negotiated after its completion, and monitor how closely and successfully processes are being followed.

Want to find out more about the essential elements of effective contract management? Read our Procurement Essentials series.


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