Serco’s employment, skills and enterprise business has retained the highest rating of ‘excellent’ for supply chain management in the latest Merlin assessment of Department for Work & Pensions contracts.
The Merlin standard, developed by DWP, is designed to recognise and promote sustainable excellence within supply chains and provide guidance to those seeking to achieve it.
Serco was the first prime contractor to receive the Merlin standard in 2012 and in 2014 achieved an ‘excellent’ rating for the first time.
The company currently manages two work programme contracts, in the West Midlands and South Yorkshire, on behalf of the DWP, as well as the English language requirement (ELR) programme in Wales.
It outsources 100% of delivery to a diverse network of organisations from the public, private and voluntary sectors. This approach ensures that small to medium sized enterprises can participate fully in the employability market and that jobseekers receive the tailored support they need to help them secure sustainable employment.
The rigorous Merlin assessment process is built upon four fundamental and integrated principles: supply chain design, commitment, conduct and review. Submissions are independently checked and verified through interviews with a random selection of subcontractors, as well as prime contractor employees.
This year assessors praised Serco’s robust quality assurance and compliance activities, which have informed training and development opportunities across the supply chain; its strong performance management culture, underpinned by established communication methods; its ability to create a culture of strong collaboration balanced with healthy competition among subcontractors; and its competent management information system, which enables subcontractors to have accurate real-time and forecast information and effectively manage risks.
Gareth Moss, Serco’s director for employment, skills and enterprise, said: “We deliver our employability programmes exclusively through subcontractors so this is an important result for us. It’s quite an achievement to obtain the Merlin standard with a rating of ’excellent’ for the second time in a row and it reflects the fair and supportive way with which we manage our supply chain.
“I’d like to thank our team and subcontractors for their continuous commitment in delivering a high quality service to our customers.”
Serco has also been given top marks in another DWP assessment for its robust internal controls, achieving a ‘strong assured’ rating from the department’s provider assurance team (PAT).
The PAT evaluates a provider’s internal control and risk management systems across four key areas: governance, service delivery, financial arrangements and data security. This provides the permanent secretary with assurance that payments made are being made in accordance with departmental and Treasury requirements; that public funds and participant data are protected; and, ultimately, that taxpayers receive value-for-money services.