Improving a Major Services Contract

28th September 2018

When Northampton Borough Council (BC) needed help with the commissioning of its 10-year £110m Environmental Services Contract and wanted to improve the quality of the services delivered, it turned to us to provide procurement expertise.

The services to be procured included waste collection, management of the recycling materials post-collection, cleansing, grounds maintenance, sports and playgrounds management, burial activities, communications and education and other ancillary services.

The project was completed on time and to budget as a result of the robust and effective governance and control framework we developed for the council. Positive outcomes of the work included a pragmatic 50/50 risk share mechanism between the council and contractor on recyclate prices, the set-up of a ring fenced reserve fund to deliver service improvement initiatives and the development of robust procurement documents, clearly setting out cost apportionment between the parties to the contract, emphasis was also placed on delivering social value with the contractor committing to trainee and apprenticeship posts in the local area.

For Northampton, the first step of the procurement process was to review the cost and performance of the current service, followed by a benchmarking analysis of alternative service configurations. The aim was not to save money, the previous contract having been underfunded, but to improve the quality of the services delivered. We then engaged local residents and community groups through focus groups, information workshops, presentations and a formal consultation campaign, gauging residents’ views on aspirations for the future services, potential changes to services and local priorities.

We found that outsourcing the environmental services would deliver the best option for Northampton by using financial and qualitative modelling to compare different commissioning options, these models were used by officers and elected members to make informed choices throughout the decision-making process.

We provided programme management, procurement and technical support throughout, reporting directly to the council’s corporate management team and engaging regularly with political stakeholders. We also led on the development of the procurement and contract documentation in preparation for the publication of the contract notice and the start of the Selection Stage, successfully engaging a multi-disciplinary team.

During the Initial Tender Stage, we actively contributed to the evaluation of the submissions as a member of the core evaluation panel assessing both the quality and the financial components of the submissions, so the council could benefit from our technical and commercial expertise as well as the right level of external and impartial view. Northampton subsequently entered Negotiation Stage, for which we produced the negotiation strategy and plan.  We assumed the lead negotiator role focusing on the technical, financial and commercial terms of the contract. Northampton had set a budget target based on expected future service cost. Through negotiation with the market we managed to achieve that target whilst focusing the negotiation on the improvement of service standards for street cleansing and grounds maintenance. We provided ongoing support through the Final Tender Stage and the award of the Contract.

We continued to support Northampton throughout the mobilisation of the new contract, building a positive relationship between Northampton and the contractor and ensuring a successful day one deployment of the new services.

David Pietropaoli, our Head of Procurement, said: 

“This project showcases Eunomia’s position as the market leader in both commissioning and procurement of environmental services for local authorities.  We delivered on the council’s expectations as a result of the robust and effective governance and control framework that we introduced from day one. The new contract, focusing on outcomes and partnership working, has met the council’s requirements for quality standards and affordability.  Thanks to our negotiation abilities during the procurement of the contract, the parties were able to agree a pragmatic approach to risk share and improvements in the quality of the service received by residents.”

Marion Goodman, Head of Customer and Cultural Services at Northampton BC said:

“Eunomia led us through both the selection and the award stages of the procurement process, producing high quality procurement and contract documentation, managing the evaluation of submissions whilst at the same time upskilling officers and providing a strong and effective negotiator role during the negotiation stage so that the council could achieve high quality services within its financial constraints.”

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Tony Hisgett, CC BY 2.0.