A new version of the Consultancy Playbook was published 5 September 2022 (version 1.1). The new version retains a focus on getting consultancy appointments right from the start, but now includes new guidance on knowledge generation and transfer, engaging with the whole market including SMEs, collaborative working, and delivering value for money.

Government is big business for consultancies - with recent reports showing that Government has spent £3.25 billion on consultancy fees in the past five years. The Government Consulting Hub (GCH) was set up within the Cabinet Office in May 2021 with the aim of reducing consultancy spend and maximising value. The Consultancy Playbook is one of the core components of the GCH programme, and the latest version constitutes another significant step in the journey.

What has changed in version 1.1?

Knowledge and skills

A new accompanying Guidance Note has been issued to provide Departments with more detailed guidance on how to embed knowledge generation, knowledge and skills transfer, and sharing across the contract lifecycle.

Delivery models

There is updated guidance around the key steps that Departments should take at the outset to inform which delivery model will maximise value, including strategic workforce planning, using the new Government Consulting Hub triage service and the Cabinet Office Control processes (page 10).

Considering access for SMEs

A 'SME Roadmap' has been added, setting out the key actions for Departments to consider in order to facilitate access for companies of all sizes - such as lotting, market engagement, publishing pipelines, apply proportionate timescales to procurements and reserving below threshold bids.


Additional guidance has been added around consultancy-specific off-payroll working rules, including when off-payroll working legislation is likely to apply to consultancy engagements and referrals to the Tax Centre of Excellence.

Roles and responsibilities

A new 'OKUA' (Ownership, Knowledge, Understanding, Awareness) model has been added, which maps what input is required from each of the functional groups within a Department at each the key stages of a consultancy engagement.

Going to market

There is updated guidance on long-term contracting models such as umbrella contracts of delivery partner arrangements with defined call-off procedures. There is also new guidance on writing specifications, evaluation criteria and payment mechanisms for consultancy engagements in order to get the best solutions from the market. These include working collaboratively with industry, focusing on outcomes and avoiding being overly prescriptive.

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