In 2014 the previous Committee concluded that government would not achieve value for money from its contracts unless it improved its contract management. While government has made encouraging progress in some areas, the pace of change is disappointing. We expect the Cabinet Office to raise its game, be more assertive and challenge those departments that are lagging behind, as well as supporting them where necessary. Given the increasing scale and complexity of government’s contracts, departments need to focus on the governance, systems and assurance frameworks around their major contracts, as well as recruiting more commercial staff. The government also needs to tackle the longstanding problem of a civil service culture that does not place enough value on commercial expertise. We expect the Cabinet Office and individual departments to accelerate the pace of change and be able to demonstrate tangible improvements by the end of this parliament, so that we see a civil service which is first rate at managing commercial contracts. In the meantime we will continue to hold departments and their contractors to account for their performance, with a particular interest in safeguarding the interests of vulnerable users of public services.
Prepared 21 March 2016