Last year we set up our framework contract that we use to employ companies to help us deliver the PAS programme. It’s a 4-year OJEU framework covering a range of skills and competences – everything from traditional planning consultancies to editing and management consultancy. Like all EU heavy-duty procurements it was slightly bruising (more on this, perhaps, in another post) so we want to get maximum value from our investment. This includes you – councils are able to use our framework to buy services and take advantage of the work we’ve already done.
Our framework is split into six parts – hopefully you’ll find one that covers your need:-
- Local and neighbourhood plans (covers all aspects of local plan preparation and also supporting neighbourhoods). Note that this does not cover neighbourhood planning itself – you’re better off talking to Localis.
- Improvement (efficiency and effectiveness of planning departments)
- Strategic planning (plus whatever euphemism we’re using for regional planning these days)
- Growth and implementation (CIL, infrastructure)
- Delivery (decisions, investment, open for business)
- Supporting roles (covers a range of skills including technical specialisms, facilitation, critical friend, committee briefings etc)
Within each lot you will find pre-specified pieces of work (we still call them ‘bids’) plus set day rates. By using the bids as a base you should be able to create something that suits you.
Why bother using our framework ?
Procurement is expensive. And hassle. We have done lots of the upfront work for you – all these suppliers are financially safe, professionally vouched for and monitored by us routinely.
We also play an active part in your procurement. If you share your ideas fully with us, we can learn from your to “keep up” with what’s going on out there. We’ve even been known to chip in a few quid in return for your input into case studies.
But probably the biggest reason is that we’re going to encourage people to share their experiences. Details are still sketchy – but it may end up being a bit like tripadvisor for planning consultancies. We know from some under-the-radar conversations we’ve had with people that quite a lot of consultancy is badly bought. Consultants know that they’re not being used most effectively and Councils feel slightly disgruntled. If this feedback loop works out then everyone has a vested interest in working together.
How does it work ?
Well, it depends. If the value of the work is sub-£10k then you don’t have to go through any process. You can just pick a supplier – but you may want to ask our advice.
Over £10k and you need to observe some kind of process, but keep it proportionate. The reality of life is that often you’ll want someone to be available for a ridiculous timetable, you’ll want confidence they know what they’re doing and (of course) how much.
For example, a council recently used our framework to independently assess and make recommendations for their assumptions behind household formation rates. They asked for a price, for an acceptance of a delivery timetable, and links to two public studies that a bidder had done for councils.
Once you’ve evaluated any bids and made a decision you need to enter an “access agreement”. I am not a lawyer, and in my simple mind the access agreement transfers the terms and conditions of the framework to you without me getting dragged into your procurement and being liable. You’ll be pleased to know it exists as a template with a few blank places where we enter our names and sign it off.
And then lastly, and for me most importantly, a few months later you and the supplier say how it went. Did you get what you wanted ? Was it done to time & budget ? Were you a decent customer ?
Want to check it out in more detail ?
In my experience most people want to begin my knowing who is on the framework. And then, with decreasing levels of interest, the rest of the contract stuff. Here is a link to page which includes all the documents:
- A list of PAS planning framework suppliers (about 40 of them, all shapes & sizes)
- A description of each lot (the suppliers are grouped into lots, and you need to offer your work to the closest match. It’s OK to offer to more than one lot if the work could fairly be said to belong in either)
- A list of the bids that have already been specc’d and priced (this is called the ITT chopdown for reasons that are now forgotten)
- A cribsheet of the framework (both you and your legal bods may be interested in this. It’s a subset of the full framework agreement that sets out the various obligations)
- A blank framework agreement including the access agreement (page 35). If you are planning a significant purchase your procurement and/or legal teams will want to see this to check it’s all above-board.
What’s missing is some of the local knowledge that would help you pick one supplier over another, along with the feedback from other councils. This will be built up over time, and we’re learning how to do this as we go. For now – you’ll need to talk to us.
What next ?
If you think we can save you time, money and hassle then let’s talk. Remember, though, that there is no substitute for following the two golden rules of procurement:
- be clear about what you want. A straightforward specification is the starting point. Be open about the things you know and also those that you don’t know. Deal with uncertainty by phasing and using gateway reviews. Don’t ask for stupid outcomes that you will be unable to measure
- put yourself in the shoes of the bidder. If you are very close to the topic or issue, present your specification to someone far away and listen to their questions.