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MCA welcomes UK Government reforms.

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London: The UK's Management Consultancies Association (MCA) is enthusiastic about imminent reforms to Government's use of consultancy.

In a landmark speech yesterday, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, said that the way the UK Government does business is about to change radically,

The Cabinet Office is set to unveil a package of measures that will revolutionise how the Government buys from the private sector, including:

  • publishing £50bn of potential business online
  • making it 40 percent faster to do business with government
  • collaborating with businesses at a much earlier stage in the procurement process so they don't find themselves excluded from opportunities.

Francis Maude said, " We need to make things better for business in the UK — the current system isn't working. UK-based suppliers are finding themselves excluded, opportunities for growth are missed due to the public sector's timidity and carrying out a procurement in the UK costs over twice as much as in France. This is wrong from every point of view.

"While other countries manage to settle down and develop long-term relationships with business — this country appears to have taken a rather less successful overly formal and legalistic approach, failing to think beyond the immediate contract and failing to adequately support our businesses. We look forward to working with businesses on our new approach."

Full details of the Government's new procurement relationship with its suppliers will emerge over the next few days and will feature a new framework for consultants (ConsultancyONE) developed with the Government Procurement Service.

The MCA says this initiative will herald a new era of partnership between the industry and the public sector.

Alan Leaman, Chief Executive of the MCA said: "The government has now put some clear water between value-adding management consultancy and temporary staffing or body shopping. These are different services and need to be separated in the buying process. Confusion between the two was often at the root of the reputational damage for the consulting industry."

He also welcomed new opportunities for smaller and specialist consultancies. "Government buyers should have access to a wide range of quality firms who are capable of doing great work."

The new framework follows months of discussions between the MCA and the Efficiency and Reform Group (ERG).

Changes in the new framework that will come into effect in March 2012 will:

  • end the buying by Ministers of expensive temporary staff to cover staffing shortfalls, disguised as consulting
  • increase transparency and fairness
  • improve value for money for the taxpayer
  • focus users of consultancy on obtaining best value and results from consultancies
  • make it easier for smaller and specialist consultancies to bid for government work
  • introduce a new open-access web based bidding system for Government contracts under £100,000

The MCA added: "We will continue to work closely with the Cabinet Office to ensure that the public sector gets maximum value from its use of consultancy."

A full text of Francis Maude's speech is here.

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