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Public Sector Contract: Keeping it simple

Source: PSE June/July 2018

Jason Waterman, deputy director of disputes & policy implementation at the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), describes the benefits of the streamlined Public Sector Contract, which provides a much easier route into the market.

“The new CCS contract is shorter, easier to understand and takes a more standardised approach. This should save SMEs time and money when deciding to bid for CCS deals and I welcome the approach.” – Emma Jones, Crown Representative for small business.

CCS is supporting sustainable public procurement relationships with a new, simplified Public Sector Contract.

We have now published a streamlined set of contract documents – removing duplication and making public procurement as simple as possible for public sector buyers, and for companies that supply to government through CCS frameworks.

The contract is designed so that buyers and suppliers can focus on building sustainable relationships that support the delivery of products and services that help meet the needs of citizens. The move also makes it easier than ever for smaller businesses – who may lack the resources to read and digest reams of complicated terms and conditions – to supply goods and services to government.

The end result for suppliers could be transformative. The Public Sector Contract will be used for all new CCS frameworks from 2018, starting with the new Facilities Management Marketplace agreement. That framework could be worth up to £12bn, and covers everything from mechanical and electrical engineering to cleaning.

Suppliers will benefit from the Public Sector Contract’s shorter, easier-to-read documents and increased consistency and standardisation. The contract will help suppliers to cut the time it takes to bid, reducing the cost of doing so and making it clearer what is expected of them. Buyers will see simpler and easier-to-use documents with robust, appropriate commercial terms and clear options to help them set out their requirements.


The publication of the contract follows the announcement in April of new measures to level the playing field for smaller businesses, including a consultation on proposals to exclude suppliers from major government procurements if they cannot demonstrate fair and effective payment practices with their subcontractors.

Further requirements mean suppliers will have to advertise subcontracting opportunities via the Contracts Finder website, and to provide the government with data showing how businesses in their supply chain, including small businesses, are benefiting from supplying to central government.

The ‘OneTeamGov’ method

CCS’s standard terms and conditions are now available online via GOV.UK, with only those elements actually necessary for deals signed through CCS frameworks included in contracts. The core terms are just over 20 pages that never change, with schedules that ‘plug in’ if some tailoring is required. That’s a very different proposition to the hundreds of pages of the old contract. 

The Public Sector Contract was developed using ‘OneTeamGov’ principles in partnership with Government Digital Service and Government Legal Department.

The team used a technique called ‘pair writing.’ Pair writing is when a subject matter expert and a content designer sit down together to write in real time, rather than sending drafts backwards and forwards. It’s a way of making sure what you write is clear and simple, but also still legally correct. It also helps the writers to focus on the needs of their users – balancing the need for documents to be easy to understand with legal requirements.

The work saw the project team nominated for a GO Award, celebrating excellence in public procurement.


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