Whitehall design buying reviewed

Government departments are reviewing the way they procure design in an effort to conform with the EC directive on public services contracts and a Government White Paper on forming closer relationships with suppliers.

The Department of Health has embarked on its first Europe-wide anonymous credentials pitch to shake up its design roster. The DoH spends 1.1m on design annually on 250 individual literature and exhibitions projects. In the last financial year it listed 150 design groups on its books, although it only used 50 of them.

So far more than 300 graphic and exhibition groups have entered the pitch. The final roster, to be announced at the end of May, will comprise 30 general groups and seven specialist exhibition designers to work with the department for the next two years.

“The nature of our relationship with designers will change,” says Mark Collyer, DoH senior publicity officer. With the department being able to get to know the groups better, it will become easier to draw up pitch lists, he says.

However, the new procurement system will not rule out unpaid creative pitches. “We have no fixed rule on paid pitches – it depends on the job,” Collyer says.

The Department of Social Security, influenced by the White Paper and the EC directives, is also planning to change the way it buys in design. “A number of options are under discussion,” says a DSS spokeswoman.

Other departments are reviewing their process for procurement. “We have been looking at the recommendations of the White Paper,” says a Department of the Environment spokesman.

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