Crown Commercial Service & Contingent Labour One Framework

There are many barriers within the public sector to consuming cloud services via G-Cloud / Digital Marketplace, but we will take a look at the Crown Commercial Service and the Contingent Labour One framework.


Introduction/Background

There are many barriers within the public sector to consuming cloud services via G-Cloud / CloudStore, but we will start with the Crown Commercial Service.

Crown Commercial Service (CCS)

As we can see from the changes in the people from CCS working on G-Cloud, it appears that CCS have a policy of rotating staff in/out of the G-Cloud team, which I support. This allows CCS to leverage the innovation from G-Cloud and apply it elsewhere. The only problem with this approach is that we are seeing the initial principles of G-Cloud being diluted as passes from staff to staff.

The Crown Commercial Service (CCS http://ccs.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/) have published a policy that restricts Central Government to a limit of £100K when procuring ICT consultancy via the G-Cloud frameworks, details of the policy can be found here.

Now, this is a poor document at best, as it’s not branded and displays a bias towards the larger suppliers on other frameworks.

Some Background

Temporary (non-payroll) Staff

CCS define temporary staff as follows:

The provision of workers to cover business-as-usual or service delivery activities within an organisation. Temporary Staff are also often referred to as “Contingent Labour”.

Specialist Contractors

Specialists are normally middle to senior grades, used to provide expertise that is not available in-house, fulfilling functional or senior positions within the organisational structure and ideally engaged on a short term basis.

  • may include sub-categories of Finance, HR, IT, Legal, Logistics, Marketing, Medical, Procurement, Estates, Technical and Other
  • not staff substitution; specialists are used to provide additional resource, skills and expertise, not to cover vacancies etc
  • should not include management functions or similar organisational involvement
  • usually involved in a defined package of work or project rather than covering a day-to-day workload or defined job / role
  • in some instances, may include a degree of organisational involvement (e.g. managing staff, representation at meetings)
  • not always provided through an agency

ICT Consultancy

CCS define consultancy as follows:

The provision to management of objective advice relating to strategy, structure, management or operations of an organisation, in pursuit of its purposes and objectives. Such advice will be provided outside the ‘business-as-usual’ environment when in-house skills are not available and will be time-limited. Consultancy may include the identification of options with recommendations, or assistance with (but not the delivery of) the implementation of solutions.

CCS define ICT consultancy as follows:

The provision of objective IT/IS advice including that relating to IT/ IS systems and concepts, strategic IT/IS studies and development of specific IT/IS projects. Advice related to defining information needs, computer feasibility studies, making computer hardware evaluations and to e-business should also be included.

It’s clear from the CCS definitions that the £100K limit is a restriction on IT Consultancy and NOT the Specialist Cloud Services within Lot 4. This should be explained clearly within the CCS documentation.

All Roads lead to Contingent Labour One

Contingent Labour One

The framework is split into three lots;

Lot 1 — Neutral Vendor

“This service provider manages a dynamic market supply chain and competes every medium to high value requirement (i.e. interim managers and specialist contractors) within the supply chain.”

As far as I can tell, many requirements for Cloud/ICT consultancy are being offered via Lot 1 on this framework, which is not surprising given the muddled advice from CCS. The only certain choice in the flowchart is to use Consultancy Labour One.

The only vendor selected to supply services under Lot 1 is Capita Business Services Ltd

There is no documentation available from CCS on how Capita “competes” every requirement.

Sanctions in place to control prices

Contingent labour is classed as one of the central commodities which (i) Commercial Heads from each Department have signed up to use (inclusive of their ALBs), (ii) Commercial Heads have signed off the Contingent Labour Strategy and if departments chose to go outside of this framework they will need Professional Services Procurement Board (PSPB) approval to do so.

Some of the benefits of the Contingent Labour One framework are;

  • One common technology platform which will also interfaces with Government eMarketplace. More to come on the eMarketplace in the following parts to this blog.
  • Key policy initiatives such as Agency Worker Regulations, Tax Arrangements of Public Sector Appointees, Transparency Agenda and Automatic Pensions Enrolment addressed

The Contingent Labour One framework has no supporting business case, as documented in an FOI request here.

To provide services through the Contingent One Labour framework the worker (they’re not a Consultant because they are delivering something) is required to provide the following information:

  • Verified copy of Passport (including photo & front page) and work permit (if required) — as proof of rights to work in the UK
  • Verified copy of Proof of address (UK photo driving licence, Utility Bill or bank statement (less than 3 months old))
  • EAA Regulations — you will need to decide whether you wish to be covered by the Employment Agencies Act 2004
  • Employment history verification — employment references to cover the last 3 years. Referees that we could speak too, their Job Titles, and a contact telephone number or email address. If you have written references available, these would also be acceptable
  • Signed criminal declaration form
  • Signed confidentiality and conflict of interest form
  • Signed declaration of interest form
  • Signed benefit claim form
  • Basic disclosure check — please send through copy of certificate (must be dated within last 12 months) Scanned copy of Certificate of Incorporation
  • Scanned copy of VAT Registration Certificate (if VAT registered, if not please inform)
  • Scanned copy of Professional indemnity insurance (min of £1M required)
  • Scanned copy of Public Liability Insurance (min of £1M required)
  • Scanned copy of employers Liability Insurance (min of £5M required)
  • Signed copy of form “undertaking to provide tax assurance”

Value for Money?

Refer to CCS ICT Service Category Team

If you contact CCS as a public sector buyer, you will receive confusing advice on if/when you can use G-Cloud to procure ICT consultancy, but this is not surprising based on their own documented guidance.

Summary

  • It’s clear from the CCS definitions that the £100K limit is a restriction on IT Consultancy and NOT the Specialist Cloud Services within Lot 4. This should be explained clearly within the CCS documentation.
  • CCS needs to provide clearer guidance on when a public sector buyer can use G-Cloud for ICT consultancy
  • The £100K restriction needs to be explained and linked to government policy or immediately removed.
  • CCS needs to ensure the G-Cloud principles are not diluted by rotating staff within CCS
  • CCS should review and publish evidence that Consultancy One Labour framework is delivering the required benefits
  • G-Cloud is fantastic, but until these barriers are removed don’t bet your business on it
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