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Picture courtesy of the Olympic Delivery Authority.

 
Picture courtesy of the Olympic Delivery Authority.

ERF Gateway Reviewers - Frequently Asked Questions

Is this the same as the old SACS contract?
The External Resources Framework (ERF) contract replaced the old SACS (Strategic Assignments Consultancy Service) framework agreement in July 2008.  
What type of work is included in the ERF contract?

The ERF provides OGC with a pool of expertise to carry out a variety of reviews, assurances and direct interventions with government departments and their associated bodies.  Current roles include:

  • Team leaders and members for high risk OGC GatewayTM reviews
  • Team leaders for medium risk OGC GatewayTM reviews
  • Starting Gate reviews of major high risk policy proposals likely to be delivered via a project or programme
  • Reviewing major projects under the auspices of the Major Projects Review Group (MPRG)
  • Reviewing the procurement and project capability of government departments (PCR)
  • Support to Government Estate Transformation initiatives

Can other government departments make use of the framework?
The agreement allows for call off by other government departments and their associated bodies.  However, all such call offs must be authorised by the External Resources (ER) team in OGC.  The Gateway hubs in Department of Health and Ministry of Defence (OGC - OGC Gateway Review for Programmes & Projects), and the Departmental Gateway Co-ordinators (DGCs) have been authorised to call off Gateway reviewers when required.

How are ERF Gateway reviewers selected for reviews?
Selection is based on the blend of skills and experience required for a particular review, ensuring that the team as a whole has a rich combination of knowledge and expertise.
Data on skills has been extracted from the consultant details form completed by all consultants engaged via ERF and from the civil servant Gateway application form; an initial search of the database is made based on these skill categories. The results are then refined by closer scrutiny of CVs, feedback from previous reviews etc.
Reviewers are drawn from both the ERF pool and the pool of accredited civil servants.  OGC has targets to increase the use of the civil servant pool where possible in order to reduce the cost of Gateway reviews.

How many OGC GatewayTM reviews are there a year?
OGC is responsible for arranging reviews of high risk projects in central civil government together with a small number of medium risk reviews for those departments who do not have delegated authority, and only holds data relating to these.

Since the launch of the ERF agreement in July 08 to 01 Feb 09, OGC has arranged 103 reviews.  In addition to this number, ERF resource is called off by the Health and Defence hubs, and by DGCs (see above).  Figures will be posted when available.

The majority of reviews comprise one leader and two members; exceptionally the members are increased to three. OGC has targets to increase the use of the civil servant pool where possible in order to reduce the cost of Gateway reviews; therefore, not all of these "slots" are available to consultants.  However, the quality of the review must be maintained.

Why haven"t I been contacted yet?
The volume of work expected to go through the framework is likely to be significantly lower than previously through SACS - at the time of the procurement exercise precise volumes were not known so best estimates were used to size the pool to the optimum level to ensure business continuity for OGC and to enable a fair spread of the available work.

The External Resources team monitors the distribution of work around the pool and endeavours to spread the available work as evenly as possible.  It must be stressed that inclusion on the framework does not offer a guarantee of any work.

How is non-Gateway work awarded?
The majority of other work is allocated via the use of mini-competitions.  All suppliers with consultants approved for the role in question (e.g. MPRG, PCR) are sent details of the requirement against which they are invited to bid, submitting details of eligible consultants and an associated fee rate reflecting the volume of work and the market conditions.  All bids are evaluated on the basis of quality, price and availability, with award being made to the successful supplier.

I"m a supplier - how do I get on to ERF?
No additional suppliers will be added to the framework during the contract period.  OGC"s future requirements for consultancy support will be considered prior to the expiry of this framework and if appropriate a new framework will be set up, and is likely to be advertised through OJEU (www.ted.eu.int).

I"m a consultant - how do I get on to ERF?
If OGC identifies a business need for additional resource on the framework, the refresh mechanism will be triggered.  If the requirement is for an increase in numbers for existing roles, the seven Sourcing Partners will be approached.

If the requirement is for a new role not included in the original procurement exercise, all twenty nine suppliers will be approached.

Interested consultants should approach the ERF suppliers with a view to being proposed at a future refresh.  However, OGC will not carry out a refresh unless a business need not currently met by the framework is identified.

I"m on ERF - how do I get involved in other roles?
The only way is via the refresh mechanism - see above.  OGC is keen not to grow the ERF consultancy pool too much, and will on occasion limit a refresh exercise to those already on the framework in other roles.

How much work can I expect in a year?
This can vary hugely depending on the number of roles you have been selected for, your skill set, and demand. It must be stressed that inclusion on the framework does not offer a guarantee of any work.  No one is expected to be engaged full-time on ERF work, and OGC discourages the development of "professional" reviewers.  We value the hands-on experience which can be brought to a review by consultants who are still actively engaged at the coal face. 

How do I change my ERF supplier?
Currently you cannot simply change supplier.  You would have to leave your current supplier (who has invested heavily in securing your place on the framework) and in doing so lose your place on the framework.  You would then have to sign up with a new supplier and wait to be proposed at a refresh.  However there is no guarantee that your particular role or skill set will appear in a refresh exercise, or that your application will be successful.  As long as the framework continues to meet OGC"s business needs, despite the loss of some consultants, this will remain the case.

Why can"t consultants migrate between roles?
OGC GatewayTM members and leaders have to go through a formal accreditation process before being engaged on Gateway reviews.  It is not possible to get involved in Gateway reviews without successfully going through this process.

For other roles, consultants are selected via mini-competition (see previous question regarding award mechanisms).  In order to limit the number of responses to each competition (and hence the evaluation resource required), OGC has segmented the resource pool into specific roles.  OGC stakeholders who own the roles in question have invested considerable time in pre-selecting consultants for their particular areas.

What is the difference between Sourcing Partners and Consultant Providers?
Sourcing Partners are able to provide additional consultants when a refresh is required. The distinction between the two categories of supplier was introduced to limit the number of suppliers who are invited to provide additional consultants at refresh when required.  The Sourcing Partners provided evidence of their ability to access easily a wide variety of skills and experience appropriate to the OGC agenda.

There is no distinction made when awarding work through ERF - all suppliers with relevant pre-selected consultants are invited to take part in mini-competitions, and all consultants with relevant skill sets are considered for direct awards, irrespective of supplier status.