The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) plans to set up a roster of creative agencies that will serve all government departments, for comms work not handled through the Central Office of Information (COI).
The department is taking the lead on the new roster, which is expected to replace lists of agencies at individual departments. The new system will complement the COI, which handles existing Whitehall comms projects.
It is taking the unusual step of outsourcing management of this new roster to an external body, which will handle £30-50m worth of business.
The aim is to simplify the arrangements for marketing and communications services, so that more money is spent through fewer rosters.
A number of creative media deals across departments are due to expire in the next year or two and the DCSF stated that 'a new way to deliver more efficiently had to be found'.
The DCSF is understood to have held a 'supplier forum' in Sheffield last Tuesday.
It wants an 'integrated service provider' to oversee 'a range of creative media services to support communications'.
The supplier is expected to be in place by September. The DCSF has suggested it could be a 'supplier, consortium, partnering arrangement or similar'.
A DCSF spokesman said: 'It is anticipated 90 per cent of comms expenditure will be routed through the COI's frameworks, with ten per cent delivered through the DCSF.'
How I see it
Mike Granatt, Director, Luther Pendragon
There's more to this than meets the eye. This giant framework deal worth '£30-£50m a year' will cover creative services including PR for the whole public sector - not just schools - plus much of the third sector.
So, where does it leave agencies that already spend thousands bidding for the COI's roster? Will they have to bid twice? And what about small local agencies that rely on winning local public sector business directly? Notably, the COI welcomes the plan.
They should remember the old Whitehall gambit of persuading the condemned man to greet the scaffold and executioner as a great idea and the birth of an exciting new partnership.