29/02/2012 - Permalink

New policy on use of consultants

Related topics: Democracy

Shropshire Council is introducing a new approach to the way it hires external consultants, to ensure it gets the best possible value from their services.

The council wants to set a ceiling to limit this spending, and ensure a consistent approach is taken when external expertise is needed to carry out important projects or to inform major decisions.

A report will be considered by the council’s Cabinet on Wednesday 7 March 2012 which explains why outside help is sometimes required by all large organisations, particularly when they are going through periods of rapid, large scale change.

The report shows how, if done well, this can help the council improve efficiency and make huge savings.  The new policy will agree a clear set of rules that must be followed when hiring an outside expert.

These include making sure there is no suitable expertise or capacity already available within the council; that there is a clear business case to support the need for a consultant; and checking first whether there is an opportunity to share the resource with other local partners who could benefit from the outcomes of the work.

Chief Executive, Kim Ryley, said:

“Although there is very real benefit from the challenge of an outside perspective, it is essential that the costs involved are carefully managed and controlled.”

He explained that:

“In important initiatives, like the council’s management review and the creation of a new, single shared services support team, a relatively small investment in external support has already resulted in millions of pounds being saved, avoiding cuts in essential public services.”

The council’s spend on consultants is already low and, if agreed, the new policy will be put into use immediately, to give even better value-for-money in future.

The report can be viewed as part of the Cabinet agenda by clicking this link and scrolling to the bottom of the page to item 14.