DWP offers contracts in strategic review

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is to put its entire array of marcoms, PR and advertising contracts up for grabs as part of a root and branch strategic review.

Freshly installed director of comms Sue Garrard has pledged to look at all procurement processes. In particular, she will examine how many agencies should be on its rosters to make sure that each one has a ‘good crack’ at getting work from the department.

The DWP currently boasts a colossal 94 agencies across its marcoms rosters and the review is at an early and internal stage.

‘We will look at how we make sure we do not take agencies through unnecessary procedures – the existing rosters are very long, and could be working better,’ she said. ‘We will be inviting a sensible number of people to tender.’

The 500-strong internal comms team is also set for a radical overhaul designed to make the stakeholder and media arenas more senior.

‘Engaging comms with policy at an earlier stage is not a natural territory for government which tends to be reactive and occasionally defensive. Engagement with stakeholders is not high risk but has potential rewards so we want to be more proactive,’ said Garrard.

The head of news post – which is soon to be vacated by Rachel Grant, who joins the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs later this month (PRWeek, 4 May) – is to be upgraded to senior civil ser­vant level. ‘It will then be up to this person to try to build a strategic news team,’ said Garrard.

‘For the first time we will design a single communications strategy that works across the whole department and its four main areas,’ she added.

Agencies currently on the DWP’s PR roster are Citigate Communications, Consolidated Communications, Euro RSCG Biss Lancaster, Geronimo Communications, Trimedia Harrison Cowley, Munro and Forster, Porter Novelli and the Bell Pottinger Group.

This roster was the first of its kind when it was created in 2005 under the direction of previous director of comms Simon MacDowall (PRWeek, 8 April 2005).

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