Management consultants and some professional advisors are engaged via a specific framework agreement (known as CIPHER). The framework agreement itself was established following a competition process conducted in accordance with the EU Consolidated Procurement Directives. In addition, individual contracts let within the framework agreement are subject to a separate mini competition where all the suppliers within the relevant lot on the framework agreement are invited to bid. In this way DWP is assured that all exercises can demonstrate value for money. Professional advisers covered via the framework agreement are in the fields of HR, IT, procurement, finance and programme and project management, others such as legal and property advisers are not covered.
In addition, the DWP internet audit unit are responsible for providing independent assurance on the procurement system processes, including compliance with the CIPHER framework. With regard to specific value for money (VfM) studies, over the last five years there was a review in 2006 covering the use of external resources, although VfM is a consideration in all internal audit reviews.
Management information on the number of exercises is available with effect from April 2004, the date the CIPHER agreement went live, details available are as follows:
Management consultants Professional advisers 2004-05 117 161 2005-06 121 283 2006-07 (to end October) 57 160
2006-07 (to end October)