Southwest One: Lessons and New Agenda for Public Services in the South West

Somerset County Council and Taunton Deane District Council signed a £400m Strategic Service-delivery Partnership contract with IBM in September 2007. The Joint Venture Company, Southwest One, is the first SSP to have a framework agreement to enable other local authorities and public bodies to obtain services bypassing the procurement process. It is also the first to potentially include a Police Authority as a partner (Avon and Somerset Police Authority negotiating to join the partnership) and the first to combine secondment with a 10-year assurance to staff in the founding authorities. This report exposes the unprecedented use of commercial confidentiality in the procurement process, identifies effective ways for UNISON to respond to the new agenda and ensure a good industrial relations framework in Southwest One. It also proposes regional and national public policy changes to improve the accountability and transparency of options appraisal and procurement processes.


  1. Introduction: The procurement of Southwest One.

  2. Lessons for Somerset and Taunton Deane UNISON branches.

  3. Continued opposition to the contract culture.

  4. Scrutiny, governance, participation, impact assessment and neglect of the public interest.

  5. Access to information.

  6. The new agenda.

  7. Recommendations

The report identifies six fundamental shortcomings in the procurement of Southwest One:

  • Failure to engage the community.

  • Failure of scrutiny.

  • Failure to ensure the public interest was safeguarded.

  • Democratic deficits.

  • The questionable role of HR in public procurement.

  • Flawed options appraisal.

An unprecedented level of commercial confidentiality was imposed during the procurement process of Southwest One. The report makes a series of recommendations for Southwest One, local authorities and public bodies in the South West, national public policy changes and a UNISON strategy for the South West. Three important changes are required in the policy-making process. Local authorities and public bodies should be required to produce a Participation and Engagement Plan for the commissioning and procurement process, procurement documents should contain statements about their expectations of bidders in facilitating participation and their approach to access to information and protocols on user/community participation, staff/trade Union participation and access to Information protocols should be an integral part of local authority procurement policies and strategies.

Download the full report


European Services Strategy Unit, Duagh, Camp, Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland.
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This document was created by Dexter Whitfield on 2008-01-24 15:53:56.
This document was last modified by Dexter Whitfield on 2008-02-04 12:45:35.
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