The importance of process in local authority decision making

Local Partnerships is currently working with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to test a number of approaches to increase the sector’s commercial capability, says Adele Gritten.

The success of a council's commercial outcomes depends strongly on the quality of its business planning and the attendant processes.

Local Government and rigorous, transparent governance go hand in hand. The majority of the sector adheres to the highest standards. However, when things do go wrong, failures can be amplified, resulting in negative national and industry press coverage, forming a dent in public trust in the sector.

Commercial capacity and capability is a systemic issue affecting local government and the wider public sector. At Local Partnerships, we help to maximise the chances of success and minimise the risk of negative outcomes. We are currently working with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to test a number of approaches to increase the sector's commercial capability.

One of these is the Hands on Sourcing support, which demonstrates best practice from our sourcing playbook in a live environment, enabling colleagues to upskill in a practical and advisory way. As part of our Contract Management Pioneer Programme, we are actively working alongside Senior Responsible Owners in local authorities to improve the RAG status of their contract management function. We help develop transformational roadmaps and advise on how to create and maximise use of performance metrics.

Our procurement improvement planning and support offer is a programme that helps the local government sector identify strengths and weaknesses in procurement functions through the facilitation of a self-assessment process using the Cabinet Office Commercial Continuous Improvement Assessment Framework methodology. Further, the Business Process Mapping toolkit clarifies contract procedure roles, supports enhanced outputs, addresses problems and can stress test gaps in existing protocols.

As a key interface between central government and local authorities, we will continue to evolve and enhance our playbooks and wider toolkit support, including helping local authorities derive best value from internal and wider government-supplied playbooks and further assistance available.

Working with councils in England and Wales, we will continue to offer support, guidance and critical friend perspectives on whether existing business and commercial processes are optimised to minimise risk and, ultimately, unnecessary cost to the public purse. We work with you to improve commercial outcomes.

Adele Gritten  is chief executive of Local Partnerships


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