Long live commissioning

By Benjamin Taylor | 10 August 2021

Commissioning is dead. So why the hell won’t it go away? In fact, this piece is in a long tradition of articles headlined ‘Commissioning is dead, long live commissioning’, right back to 2012 (and commissioning was only really introduced in its modern form in about 2010). The answer is that ever since it was introduced, it has been trying to deal with too many problems at once. And those problems won’t go away.

There are two fundamental ways to see ‘commissioning’: first, as spending (ever-decreasing) money to pay for services to meet (ever-increasing) needs. This feels a lot like procurement. It means that every time the ‘purchaser/provider split’ is criticised or ‘removed’ (again), it sounds the death knell for commissioning, and it is not as sexy as ‘commercial’, which in central Government, at least, has taken the crown for deal-making, contract management and (in theory at least) shaping markets.

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