Increased visibility and forward planning were the key themes to come out of the Agile Government Communications conference held on Monday in London.
The event, which comes after the Central Office of Information (COI) closed in March, set out to hundreds of agencies the changing landscape of procurement in a time of austerity.
The reassuring message from minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude was the ‘Government is open for business’. However, he cautioned that with the guidance spending on marketing and communications would be leaner and more efficient.
Jenny Grey, the director of government communications, detailed how £400m was saved in 2010-11 by taking control of marketing costs that formerly went through the COI. She said government communicators are now part of a smaller, more agile operation.
This ‘agility’ will be passed onto agencies as the Government replaces the old COI roster with two new frameworks and shortens the tendering process.
Under the new system, government departments will be grouped together in hubs, which will produce plans of proposed activities in published annual overviews.
A new all-encompassing web-based portal for procurement was also announced, which will allow agencies to plan their bids ahead of time.
Although the messages coming through were all positive, Michael Warren, head of campaigns, admitted the redesign is still a work in progress.
Moving forward, the Government Procurement Service (GPS) will team with the Government Communication Network to implement the more concentrated approach – redrawing frameworks and deciding new rosters in October and November.
Martin Chown, director of the GPS, promised shorter and more flexible contracts will be open to SMEs, with media monitoring on the agenda for 2013.
Read more about the changes in Jenny Grey’s article for the Guardian here.