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Crown Commercial Service to replace Crown Marketplace

The Cabinet Office’s executive agency tweaks its modernisation strategy to boost government procurement efficiency and advances its own technology agenda

Crown Commercial Service (CCS) is to replace its Crown Marketplace (CMp) programme as part of its digital transformation strategy, it announced in its annual report and accounts for 2018/19.

CCS, an executive agency of the Cabinet Office, provides central government departments with a procurement service in the form of running competitions. Some £15.7bn of government spend has gone through its commercial agreements in the past financial year, an increase of £2.7bn from the prior year.

A key area of the report is related to the future development of CMp , which aims to transform public sector procurement of common goods and services through an Amazon-style platform. According to the department, eight digital commercial services have been developed under the programme so far.

The future of CMp had been uncertain for some time – the report stated that, following a review, it decided to replace CMp with a transformation programme , intended to “take forward the digitisation strategy as part of wider organisational change, more closely aligned to and integrated with business units”.

Also on the modernisation front, CCS stated that it has begun to expand its digital portfolio to make agreements simpler to access and use. According to the agency, efforts to make the CCS easier to do business with have led to an increase of Net Promoter Scores from procurement service and customer service centre users over the report period.

In July, the agency announced an ICT procurement deal designed specifically for education bodies, with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) increasing their participation, which also reflects its new approach.

“Category strategies shape the current and future portfolio of commercial agreements and the way in which they are designed to bring customers and suppliers together, increasingly through technology-enabled or digital channels,” the annual report said.

Commercial benefits to customers outlined in the report include helping nine government customers in education generate £161,500 in savings in the purchase of IT hardware such as laptops, tablets and projectors using the Technology Products 2 framework.

The agency also claims to have helped 12 customers save 69% on average in their mobile voice and data spend through aggregated further competition. Compared to the prices they were paying, the CCS said it has generated the equivalent to £1.9m over a two-year period.

A case study at Croydon Council has also been outlined in the report, where the CCS helped streamline the local authority’s software packages by moving to one cloud-based system under G-Cloud, saving £250,000 and improving service delivery.

Internal technology risks

Key technology risks to the CCS and the associated ongoing mitigation action that is being taken have also been outlined the report.

One such area of risk is cyber security and the department’s ability to detect, respond and recover from existing and new threats. To mitigate such risks, the agency has created a cyber security strategy, roadmap and an execution plan, in addition to enhancing threat intelligence.

The CCS stated it has been working with other departments in building and retaining an “effective security talent base”, in addition to driving a security culture across the business and supply chain.

Technology innovation is another area of risk outlined in the report. To address its failure to keep up with technology developments, CCS has expanded its architecture function and set up innovation hubs where it works with suppliers in the exploitation of new tools.

Read more about public sector IT procurement

  • The government has confirmed its long-standing public cloud-first policy is under review, and that it is seeking to launch an alternative procurement framework to G-Cloud. But why?
  • Government spending with SMEs has reduced rather than increased, some government procurement markets are dominated by oligopolies and the research community needs to be brought into the mix, MPs told.
  • Common technical standards, modular contracts and a fintech -style regulatory model will underpin the new approach to technology in the health service in England.

Read more on IT for government and public sector

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