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GOVERNMENT SEEKS NEW DEAL WITH LAWYERS

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The office of government commerce (OGC), the Department for Education...
The office of government commerce (OGC), the Department for Education

and Skills (DfES) and the Treasury Solicitor's Department have this

week launched a competition for a new framework agreement for the

provision of legal services to government.

This innovative and joint initiative seeks to facilitate the future

procurement of quality legal services for the public sector and

achieve better value for money. Initially some seven Government

departments will participate offering a wider market to legal

services providers.

Commenting on this week's publication of advertisements in legal

publications inviting law firms to apply for inclusion in the

proposed framework agreement, Peter Gershon, chief executive said:

'This latest joint initiative between DfES, The Treasury Solicitor's

Department and OGC reflects an issue raised in the April 2001

National Audit Office (NAO) Report, Purchasing Professional Services,

which identified potential savings of at least 10% on the more than

£600m departments currently spend on professional services. This new

legal framework agreement will contribute to these savings and I

strongly urge public sector bodies to take advantage of its

benefits.'

The framework agreement is divided into seven categories of legal

work. 'Panels' of law firms who demonstrate expertise in a particular

category, when selected for inclusion, will undertake work in that

category without the need for a lengthy and expensive procurement

exercise. The competition aims to encourage not only large firms but

also small, medium sized and niche firms to participate.

Juliet Wheldon, the treasury solicitor said:

'High quality legal advice and services are increasingly important to

government. We are putting together panels of selected firms so that

departments can access the best possible services, at the best value

to the taxpayer. I look forward to working with departments on this

important procurement exercise.'

It may well be that, in time, these new arrangements become the

vehicle through which the greater part of government's external legal

services requirements are met.

The Framework Agreement will run for a period of three years.

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