Government department seeks single design management group

As part of a move that could revolutionise public-sector design procurement, the Department for Children, Schools and Families is set to shortlist a number of groups in its search for a single supplier or manager of creative services, including design.

The DCSF is planning to install a single organisation or consortium as an ’integrated service provider’ to manage creative work worth £30m-£50m a year, in place of its current roster system. This organisation could potentially be a single consultancy, a consortium, or a non-creative outsourcing company.

Design groups interested in working for the DCSF would apply through, and be managed by, the ISP as second-tier suppliers. Ultimately, this process will filter throughout Government, with all departments either using the ISP system or the Central Office of Information rosters.

A spokeswoman for DCSF says, ’Each department will be free to choose whether they use the COI provision or this deal.’ The plan has raised concerns among design consultancies working for Government clients.

The managing director of one consultancy which has worked with DCSF says, ’We’re very concerned that we’re going to lose our Government clients completely.’ He says the DCSF has been ’very unclear’ about how the system will work, and about what sort of group will be appointed as an ISP.

He says, ’We’re completely in limbo at the moment and in this strange situation where the Government is entrusting the future of small design businesses to an unknown body that might manage them, or might not, and might do all the work itself.’ DCSF says there will be ’the equivalent of a supplier engagement programme’ once it is in a position to seek second-tier suppliers.

It urges interested design groups to e-mail to request a copy of the ’collaboration tool’. DCSF adds that it has received ’a good response’ from groups interested in becoming ISPs, and will be issuing invitations to tender at the end of this month or in early May, with a view to making an appointment in November.

It is understood that the current DCSF design roster expires at the end of May. Kate Sanderson, client services director at Bell Design, says the consultancy is part of a consortium applying to become the ISP.

She says, ’I think it’s a fantastic idea and I hope it’s successful.’ She adds, ’It’s a new way forward. It allows for a collaborative approach, looking at the creative industries in a collaborative way, instead of leaving it up to the client to stitch everything together.’

What DCSF is seeking from an integrated service provider

The Department for Children, Schools and Families says the ISP will not be appointed on the basis of ’the size of an organisation or consortium’, but on three criteria:

  • Client management
  • Campaign management
  • Supply management
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  • David Bartholomew November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    This could be a bonanza for one big design group, and a disaster for everybody else.

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