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Advertising UK Government

Government comes under fire from marketers over the way it chose agencies in £360m Communications Roster Review


By Jennifer Faull, Deputy Editor

March 13, 2013 | 3 min read

Marketers from several UK agencies have criticised the Government Procurement Service for the way it chose agencies to work with over the next three years.

Those involved have said the process, which was part of the £360 million Communications Roster Review, took little account of their agencies’ track records and instead was “like a set of exam questions.”

One chief executive of an agency involved in the process told Public Finance: “The tendering process was almost like a set of exam questions.

“It was really about your processes and approaches to delivering activity rather than experience or capabilities or case studies. So people who had lots of experience didn’t necessarily go through, whereas people with no experience did go through because they scored better in the process mapping.”

The comments come after agencies were invited to tender for a number of government marketing and public relations services. Those successful are added to the list for government communications contracts, whilst unsuccessful agencies are prevented from working on government projects until the entire roster is re-tendered.

Although the list has not been formally announced, it has been revealed that 39 agencies bid for places on the roster to carry out direct marketing work. Successful candidates are believed to include are Bray Leino, TMW, Lida and Lateral Group.

The Public Finance source said that two of these four successful agencies were not direct marketing agencies because “they weren’t asked to provide any proof that they could deliver those services.”

The unnamed source went on to criticise the lack of marketing expertise on the commissioning side. They said: “I’m told that there weren’t any marketers involved in the process. People who are hiring agencies and then working with agencies should be part of the [procurement] process…It is very different from buying stationery.”

They added that the four successful agencies were all big firms, rather than the small and medium-sized enterprises, which was a concern.

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising is understood to be in talks with the Cabinet Office over the GPS’s approach.

The Cabinet Office has released a statement only to say that “the Government Procurement Service operates transparent and fair tendering processes that ensure we are extracting the maximum value from every pound spent, while continuing to deliver high quality.”

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