COI is not to blame for public-sector problems

Recent news items and letters about design procurement in the public sector have raised some important issues regarding free-pitches, aborted tenders and Central Office of Information rosters (News, DW 24 September, and Letters, DW 22 October, 29 October and 5 November).

Setting up a design framework that meets European Union regulations, allows you to judge submissions fairly and isn’t too time-consuming for consultancies is a difficult balancing act.

For our brand and brand identity framework, we have designed a pre-qualification questionnaire that shouldn’t take longer than four hours to complete.

Nobody is excluded from bidding and we expect more than 1000 submissions.

However, we would urge consultancies to think very carefully about whether they really meet the criteria before applying.

Once a framework is set up and the lots within it are established, it’s quicker and easier to arrange pitches, and all of the consultancies in a particular lot (around five) will be invited to pitch – easier for both client and consultancies.

The cost of pitching is an unavoidable part of business development – there is no way round it if we are going to have open competition.

Free-pitching creative work is a simpler issue. We agree with the Design Business Association and most of the industry, and we don’t ask design consultancies to do it.

If clients insist they want creative work as part of a pitch, a sum of money is agreed and given to the consultancies to cover the cost.

As long as consultancies continue to free-pitch creative work, they cannot be surprised if some clients continue to ask for it.
Andrew Prince, Director, COI Publications, by e-mail

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