Boosting commercial capability with the Contract Management Pioneer Programme

contract management pioneer programme
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The Contract Management Pioneer Programme is boosting commercial capability across the public sector, Crown Commercial Service writes

Crown Commercial Service (CCS) is committed to being at the forefront of the Government’s efforts to make procurement a force for economic, social, and environmental good.

Last year, the organisation delivered £2 billion in commercial benefits for our 20,000 customers across central government and the wider public sector, and its ambition now is to go further, faster in growing the benefits generated for customers – extending its reach and influence and supporting the UK to build back better, fairer, and greener.

That also means building resilience in the public sector during periods of uncertainty in global supply chains, making the most of CCS’s commercial expertise, and its position at the heart of the Government Commercial Function.

CCS, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, and the Government Commercial Function are, therefore, working in partnership to invest in uplifting commercial capability across local government through a new contract management training programme.

The Contract Management Pioneer Programme

Almost 200 local government officers who are required to manage contracts as part of their duties will complete the Contract Management Pioneer Programme.

Contract management skills are needed to manage every aspect of the contract lifecycle. 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 provided by the Government Commercial Function through the Government Commercial College.

Simon Tse, CEO of Crown Commercial Service says: ‘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.’

Boosting commercial capability across local government

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 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.

Olivia Cooper, Service Manager, Contract Management and Quality Assurance at Warwickshire County Council, which is taking part in the scheme, says: ‘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’.

What does the programme include?

There are five elements to the Contract Management Pioneer Programme:

  • Each attendee will complete the Government Commercial College Foundation level programme. An online module based training programme covering the basics of good contract management.
  • A further two levels of Practitioner or Expert in Contract Management are then available through a series of instructor-led webinars, leading to accreditation.
  • 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.

Want to find out more about the essential elements of effective contract management?

Read Crown Commercial Service’s Procurement Essentials series.


Crown Commercial Service (CCS)


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