Commissioning and procurement

What is Commissioning?

Commissioning is the 'how' - where public sector bodies decide what services they require to meet their priorities. The Audit Commission defines commissioning as "the process of specifying, securing and monitoring services to meet people's needs at a strategic level" [Social Services Inspectorate / Audit Commission (2003) Making Ends Meet], thereby emphasising the importance of commissioning as being needs led.

Commissioning involves:

  • Assessment (or reassessment) of need
  • Identification of resources
  • Planning how to use the resources
  • Arranging service delivery through a procurement process
  • Monitoring and reviewing service delivery

What is Procurement?

Procurement is the 'do' - the actual purchasing of a service provided by a charity, social enterprise, business or public agent. This involves a 'tendering' process and is implemented around commissioning requirements.

Procurement involves:

  • Purchasing - the process of securing or buying the services; and
  • Contracting - the means by which the process is made legally binding

The Partnership Support Unit in Wales have developed a  Commissioning Support Package for Partnerships (PSU / SSIA).
It draws on the 'Commissioning for Better Outcomes for Children in Need' (BOCIN) programme as well as other partnership development work, and has been jointly designed by the Social Services Improvement Agency (SSIA) and the Partnership Support Unit (PSU) with the support of the Institute of Public Care (IPC) at Oxford Brookes University.

In Wales we are looking at ways to develop this approach and ensure commissioning  and procurement of  services are in compliance with the UNCRC and take a children's rights approach.

Take a look here at how a local authority has involved children and young people as 'Young Commissioners'.

Children's rights Commissioning and Procurement Guide coming here soon