‘Better, smaller and fairer’ – Cabinet Office taps £50k consultancy to ‘turbocharge’ transformation

Reform programme is intended to deliver a ‘slimmed-down, high-performing department’ by 2025

Credit: Goran Anicic/Pixabay

The Cabinet Office has brought in management consultants to “turbocharge” the department’s transformation programme.

Newly published procurement information reveals that the Cabinet Office is in the early stages of “a large-scale transformation journey, with an ambition to be a slimmed-down, high-performing department by 2025”.

Dubbed ‘CO2025’ – and first trailed last summer in a newspaper column written by then-government efficiency minister Jacob Rees-Mogg – the reform agenda is intended to “make the Cabinet Office better, smaller and fairer”. 

“Once smaller, there will still be a lot to deliver across Cabinet Office, and new priorities emerge all the time,” according to commercial documents published by the department. “So, in order to get smaller, we also need to get better: better skilled; better connected; better managed; better structured. And, of course, we want this to be a happy healthy organisation, where people feel they can thrive, where talent is developed, great performance is rewarded, and difference is respected.”

The streamlining work will tie in with wider efforts to create efficiencies across the civil service, the department indicated – although such work is no longer subject to the fixed target of cutting 91,000 jobs. This goal was set in May of last year by former prime minister Boris Johnson – and volubly reinforced by Rees-Mogg and other ministers – but has since been scrapped by Rishi Sunak. 

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To help kick-start delivery of CO2025, the Cabinet Office has brought in management consultancy Oliver Wyman – with which it has signed a £50,000 12-week contract that comes into effect this coming Monday. The goal of the engagement is to put in place the “programme infrastructure” needed to deliver the scheme, and establish a “management office” to oversee implementation.

The firm will first be tasked with helping to develop a “case for change”, which should include “a clear articulation… of the benefit of the transformation [and a] roadmap… for how it will be achieved” in the coming months.

Consultants will then assist in ensuring that departmental leaders are engaged in the reform plan, as well helping in the “identification of work across the department that is aligned or misaligned with the transformation”.

The contract also covers the creation of “change forums and networks” to ensure effective delivery of change initiatives in individual business units and teams. 

Oliver Wyman will be expected to help create “metrics” through which progress can be measured and an outline of programmatic structure and work streams. Finally, the consultancy will support the establishment of governance and reporting structures.

The department’s hiring of external advisors comes in light of the appointment in September of a senior responsible owner for the CO2025 scheme, who will work with the consultancy outfit over the coming weeks. 

This additional consultancy support is, ultimately, intended to “turbocharge CO2025 and departmental readiness, design, and mobilisation for the transformation” ahead, according to the contract notice announcing the engagement.

Headquartered in New York, Oliver Wyman booked revenue of $2.5bn in 2021. Procurement records on GOV.UK indicate that its public-sector contract wins in the past 12 months include a £400,000 deal to conduct a “technology review” for the Bank of England, several five-figure engagements to help regulator Ofgem monitor the energy market, and about £2.5m in contracts with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, including support for a project to “develop a model for improving the financial resilience” of professional football clubs.


Sam Trendall

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