NAG/SOPO newsletter

Welcome to the NAG newsletter for January 2019. Please feel free to share with your networks.

News and updates

Thanks again to everyone who responded to the National Procurement Strategy diagnostic exercise. We had around a 60 per cent response from councils which is fantastic. We are still working on the key messages to come out of this exercise and will be producing a high level (anonymised) report shortly. We shall also be working on sending something to the regional leads over the next couple of weeks.

Sixth National Construction Conference that is taking place on Thursday 7 February. There will be sessions on topics including fair payments and the argument for project bank accounts, whole life costings and spending capital wisely to reduce revenue spend as well as the optimisation of building performance. We can now also confirm that Dame Judith Hackitt will be joining us to deliver the Keynote speech on building safety and the implications going forward for procurement officers. For more information on the event and to book you place please follow this link. Look forward to seeing you there.

The Independent Review of the Modern Slavery Act (MSA) has published an interim report on supply chain transparency. It has recommended that councils with budgets over the £36 million threshold publish statements outlining how they will eradicate modern slavery in their supply chains. The review body is independent and has been set up to provide recommendations on how to update and improve the MSA, whilst this recommendation is indicative at the moment, the direction of travel suggests that councils will fall under the full scope of the Act when it is updated.

Eighty-six councils have already voluntarily published their transparency statements which can be found on our council transparency statements portal. For further advice on how to produce transparency statements we have produced a Transparency Statements – Aide Memoire or you can contact for further information.

And speaking of modern slavery, Cabinet Office have released a modern slavery assessment tool for suppliers which is available on SID4GOV.

We continue to work with Microsoft colleagues to get a better understanding of the level of investment that has been made by councils in Microsoft products and services. We want to establish a breakdown by region and ensure that we have the full view of those councils that are still primarily using ‘on premise’ services and those that have made progress on the adoption of ‘cloud’ services. We will use this data so that we know who we need to request Microsoft to engage with on an urgent basis.

We have identified five councils; Dudley, Leicestershire, Surrey, LGSS and Norfolk, that Microsoft will work with to offer additional support to help them get better value and outcomes from the investments they have made. The outcomes of this engagement and assignment will be shared in due course.  If you want to be included on the list of councils who receive regular updates on Microsoft please email and we will add you to the list.

The LGA's Productivity Experts Programme supports councils to make efficiency savings against a backdrop of decreasing funding and increasing demand for services. The LGA provides a £7k grant to the council and matches them up with an expert who provides 12 days of bespoke support in the area which they request.

We are looking to increase our pool of experts not only with a local government background but also those who are still working for councils with knowledge and proficiency in a wide range of service areas including procurement. We are seeing a demand from councils for skills around contract management, contract negotiation, development of procurement strategies and design and delivery of training. If you think you would like to be an expert on the programme, give back to the sector and help to keep these skills within local government please contact

Further to the technical notice released by Cabinet Office on public procurement relating to Brexit in September 2018 (HERE*), there has been a recent further release concerning public procurement in both deal and no deal Brexit scenarios. You will find them:


Following the November newsletter in which the MHCLG workshops on the risks of procurement fraud in councils was mentioned. We have been speaking to Laura Hough about how the workshops went. Laura tells us that there was a great level of interest. Laura is hoping to pull together some best practice guidance over the next couple of months which we will let you have the link to in due course.  If anyone has any case studies they are willing to share please do get in touch.

Are you a member of the Academy of Social Justice Commissioning? You can sign up to be a member and gain access to their e-learning for free. One of the programmes is called 'Introduction to Commissioning' which could be useful for new members of your team.  The principles they discuss can be applied to commissioning for anything not just social justice. The outcomes of the e-learning are stated as by the end of the 45 minute course you will be able to:

  • understand the 4 stages of the commissioning cycle
  • identify the benefits commissioning could bring when applied to public services
  • understand how to apply commissioning good practice in your role
  • find further information and guidance about commissioning.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Local Digital Collaboration Unit had a busy 2018, launching the Local Digital Declaration and allocating funding to 16 projects through the Local Digital Fund. In early 2019, they are hosting a series of free collaboration roadshows for local authority service and transformation teams, visiting:

Each roadshow will be an ‘unconference’ where you can pitch the issues you’d like to discuss with other local authority staff and suppliers on the digital transformation journey. It’s a chance to meet people who are facing similar local government problems to you, creating the opportunity to begin fixing them together.

Kent Commercial Services have a new joint venture between Kent and Hampshire County Councils that will set up their own in-house agency, with the aim of attracting and retaining good temporary staff over a longer period. While the agency will be responsible for the recruitment of temporary agency staff across roles within the councils, from specialist IT staff to general admin support roles, there will be a particular focus on recruiting into social care, where significant demand for additional staff to plug gaps on a temporary basis is most evident. The aim is for the agency to be set up by April this year. We are sure other councils will watch with interest.

Many of you will be familiar with the CIPS Global Standard for Procurement and Supply, their competency framework for procurement officers. CIPS have recently updated the guide and includes a review and update of Theme 11 - Ethics in Procurement and Supply. It reflects that a significant update was required to meet this key area of knowledge, understanding and capability for those working at all competency levels within the profession and focusses on Modern Slavery, Corporate Social Responsibility and Briber, Corruption and Fraud. The full global standard can be downloaded (even if you are not a CIPS member).

The GO Awards Northern Ireland reward those individuals, teams and organisations that have gone above and beyond normal standards in public procurement to make real differences to the quality of public services in Northern Ireland. The Government Opportunity (GO) Awards are recognised as the premier public sector procurement awards to celebrate procurement excellence in Northern Ireland. Completely free to enter for public, private and third sector organisations, you can register your interest and ensure your procurement success story is told. And please tell us if you get nominated for an award!

The award ceremony takes place at the Titanic Hotel, Belfast on 13 March 2019, Extended deadline – Entries close Friday 1 February.


WIG and LGA Social Care Conference – Working Better Together
30 January 2019

This conference looks bring together health and social care commissioners and providers from across the public, private and voluntary sectors to have rich conversations about working better together in these challenging times. The conversations will be stimulated by inspiring speakers including a panel of health and social care commissioners and providers sharing their thoughts on how to tackle the challenges (confirmed speakers Think Local Act Personal, Shared Lives Plus, Community Catalyst) and case studies on a health and care partnership for transformation, on local area co-ordination, asset based social care, harnessing communities and co-production, amongst other themes.

Sixth National Construction Conference
7 February 2019

The sixth national construction category conference focuses primarily on the responses from and lessons learned across local government and the construction industry over what has been a difficult year. This event represents a significant opportunity to network with peers and participate in a host of plenary, panel and workshop sessions to deliver an increased contribution from the sector in shaping, delivering and quality assuring services and increased confidence Increased confidence that local government is having the right conversations and taking real action to capture and disseminate lessons learned to the sector. Entry is free to local government officers.

Procurex National Conference
30 April 2019
NEC Birmingham

Against a backdrop of an annual UK procurement spend of over £240bn, Procurex National, part of the inaugural UK Public Sector Sourcing Expo, will bring together over 1500 key decision makers who contribute to the ongoing delivery and strategic development of public sector procurement as well as over 100 market-leading suppliers from across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – making it one of the major highlights within the annual procurement calendar, supporting innovation, education, collaboration and celebration over a single dedicated day. Entry is free.