Chris Ruane – 2014 Parliamentary Question to the Department for Work and Pensions

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Chris Ruane on 2014-04-09.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment he has made of his Department’s performance in handling commercial contracts.

Mike Penning

In 2013, the department recruited a new Commercial Director who has reviewed the department’s commercial capability and capacity. The review took account of the views and policy steers from the Efficiency and Reform Group (ERG), the Chief Procurement Officer and Crown Representatives.

The review found that whilst there are areas of high capability, in some of the most complex contract areas there is a need to improve the capability and capacity of the department’s commercial function and people. In line with Civil Service Reform and the ERG-led Procurement Reform programme, the department initiated a commercial improvement programme. The programme completed a commercial skills survey in October 2013. It also restructured the commercial organisation where assessment of current practice against the standards of the NAO contract management model was also conducted.

The commercial improvement programme will strengthen commercial capability by developing and running training to underpin contract management capability and fill identified current skills gaps. Further improvement actions will be informed by the report of an independent assessment of the department’s contract management capability, currently being conducted by Price Waterhouse Coopers. The department’s commercial capability will also be evaluated by a review team as part of a new ERG programme during 2014.