Government briefs PR consultants on post-COI world

The Government will be kicking off two roster searches in a hunt for 'the most innovative ideas', PR professionals have been told at a meeting outlining comms in a post-COI world.

Jenny Grey: spelt out the changes
Jenny Grey: spelt out the changes

Yesterday afternoon, hundreds of agency figures were briefed at London’s QEII conference centre about how they would be able to make the most of radical changes in the way public sector work will be awarded.

The meeting, named 'Agile government communications: ambitions for the future' and hosted by Dods, came after the COI was closed at the end of March.

During the meeting, senior government figures including executive director of government comms Jenny Grey and minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude spelt out the changes.

Maude said: ‘Suppliers should know that this Government is on the hunt for the best talent and the most innovative ideas, albeit keenly priced. I challenged my civil servants to come up with innovations that will make it easier for industry to do business with us; now we’ll be looking to industry to come forward with innovative ideas for us.’

Comms figures were told that the COI roster would be replaced by two frameworks, with the process between bidding for and winning work shortened.

The first framework will cover creative services, delivery and execution. Agencies will be able to bid for a place on the roster from July, with the final agency line-up decided by October.

A second framework will cover market research, comms planning and strategy planning, with the process kick-starting in September and finishing in November.

The plans will also aim to allow agencies to respond to smaller briefs with more flexibility. Agencies will be able to pitch for contracts worth less than £100,000 by simply registering on a government-run website.

It was already known before the meeting that that the new system involved grouping government departments together into hubs. These hubs will present their comms needs to the Maude-chaired Communications Delivery Board, which will have overall authority over comms spend.

The Government Procurement Service will work alongside the governmental comms operation to run the pitch processes for projects and contracts.

Grey said: ‘There is an opportunity to take a more holistic view of how comms campaigns and activities could dovetail, particularly where there are overlapping audiences and potential channels to reach those audiences.’

She added: ‘That is one of the major reasons why we are working together across departments and arms-length bodies to produce the Government’s first proactive communication plan summarising the planned activities of each group of departments and arms-length bodies for the coming year.
 
‘There is much more to do, but collaborating in this way has already enabled us to identify priorities for future efficiency and improvement. It also means we can be more confident that we are extracting the maximum value from every pound spent on comms, while continuing to deliver high quality communications programmes.’

To find out more and get PROs' reactions to the conference, read this week's PRWeek.

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