Award of major public sector framework now almost three years late


The government’s troubled £2.9bn flagship consultancy framework has been delayed yet again and will now not be awarded until May 2016 – almost three years later than originally intended.

Public sector buying arm the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) issued an update on Monday confirming tendering of its four-year Project Management and Full Design Team Services framework would now begin in January 2016 and would be awarded in May.

In its last major update in August, the CCS said the framework would go out to tender in “early October” and would go live in March 2016.

The framework was originally meant to go live when its previous iteration expired on 16 June 2013, but has been repeatedly delayed and its management passed between different organisations.

The CCS attributed the latest delay to factoring in “several complex projects” that were also being procured, “including HS2, CrossRail2 (sic) and the Palace of Westminster refurbishment”.

CCS added: “As this is a pivotal procurement for the public sector and our main priority is to ensure the best commercial outcome for both customers and suppliers, we have taken the decision to revise the project timescales to ensure suppliers can provide a quality bid.”

In its August update the CCS hugely increased the expected framework value to between £2.3bn and £2.9bn, up from £750m. The framework was also restructured into 23 lots, up from six, to open it up to SMEs.

The CCS took over management of the framework in November 2014, after its procurement partner UK SBS cancelled the previous 15-month procurement process amid a storm of criticism from firms that missed out on places. The framework was also challenged in the High Court by then-failed bidder Turner & Townsend.