England & Wales

LGiU L&D Seminar: Putting elected members at the heart of commissioning, procurement & contract management



Commissioning, procurement & contract management play a central role in the way councils operate. Oversight of these functions by elected members is crucial.

This seminar will set out to achieve the following objectives.

  • Making sure that elected members have the full range of options available to them in making decisions about commissioning services (including ‘in-house’ options).
  • How a robust and effective commissioning & procurement strategy can benefit from transparency, democratic oversight and a commitment to securing social value
  • How commissioning processes benefit from early engagement with stakeholders
  • The potential role that scrutiny can play in both commissioning and the procurement process
  • Ways in which contracts should be drawn up to be fit for purpose
  • How contracts can be drawn up to include scrutiny’s rights to information and attendance at scrutiny community meetings, to enhance accountability
  • Ways in which the community’s experience and views of contract performance can be obtained
  • The techniques available to challenge contract performance and maximise Member influence to achieve improvements in contract management and service delivery


Local authority examples will be provided as part of the session, which will also feature a mixture of presentations, group discussions, and question and answer opportunities.



09:30: Registration and refreshments

10:00: Welcome and Introduction

10:10: The emerging landscape – the commissioning council and public sector reform. Dr Barb Allen, University of Nottingham

11.10: Case studies: Two local authorities describing their approach to commissioning      

11:45: Refreshments 

12:00: Second case study

12.35: Panel discussion

12.55: Lunch

13: 40: The scrutiny councillor: scrutinising contract specification, tendering, letting and monitoring. Ann Reeder /Tim Young – Frontline Consulting          

14:15: Ideas from the Commissioning Academy: Andrew Walker, LGIU

14:35 Plenary – what can councils and councillors do to strengthen their role in commissioning; procurement & contract management? (Break out session)

15.05: Key lessons & issues to take back to your organisation.

15.20 Close

Dr Barbara Allen, Assistant Professor, University of Nottingham, Barbara is a senior researcher and public policy advisor with particular interest and expertise in public services reform, management and delivery at local, national, and international levels of government. She has worked extensively with local government and individual local authorities. Barbara’s research is focussed on commissioning of public services and public procurement.  She is working at the local, national, and international level on issues of institutional practice and how it helps or hinders strategic change in the areas of joint commissioning, such as social care and health. Barbara was previously an Assistant Professor of Public Management and Policy at Warwick Business School, Lecturer at the Institute of Local Government Studies (University of Birmingham),   Ann Reeder is the director of Frontline Consulting Associates, a consultancy she established in 2007. Frontline Consulting was set up to support councillors in their frontline roles, but has expanded to explore the implications for councillors of the changing public sector landscape and provide learning and development for members. Frontline Consulting works with councils, two tier local authorities, overview and scrutiny members and officers, Police and Crime Panels, local health and social care systems and others, and services the Non-Executive Academy. Ann is also a consultant for the Local Government Information Unit, a tutor for South West Councils and an Adviser and Regional Advocate for the South of England for the Centre for Public Scrutiny. Ann was a member of a London borough from 1994 – 2002, an active frontline councillor and in the leadership and as a cabinet member from 1998 – 2002, when she stepped down to become head of local government for a political party before establishing her consultancy.   Tim Young has worked as an independent consultant since 2006, carrying out assignments for a wide range of local authorities and other bodies. His experience includes sixteen years working in local government corporate policy. This including serving as the Head of Scrutiny at the London Borough of Camden, which earned a national reputation as a leading edge authority for Overview and Scrutiny. As part of his work providing learning and development support for non-executive councillors, he has carried out research to assist local authorities to improve the commissioning, procurement and accountability of local public services being supplied by a range of public, third and business sector providers. This research, published as a report ‘small print, BIG PICTURE: A Guide for Scrutinising Public-Private Partnerships’ has underpinned working with non-executive councillors to assist them to engage more effectively in contributing to all stages of the commissioning and contracting processes   Andrew Walker, policy researcher, LGIU joined the LGIU in 2013. He co-authored, ‘Evaluation of the Cabinet Office Commissioning Academy. Andrew previously worked with Shared Assets, a social enterprise set up to support community-based environmental management, and Research Republic, a public policy consultancy. He was also an intern with the Criminal Justice Alliance and the Prison Reform Trust, where he carried out research on local justice and effective community sentencing.
Who should attend?
  • Portfolio holders whose responsibilities cover commissioning; procurement and contracts
  • Scrutiny committee – chairs and members
  • Elected members who want to develop their understanding of this area of council policy.
  • Council officers who support elected members involved in commissioning, procurement and contract management.