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Commissioning and procurement

Commissioning is the process of finding out about public needs, then designing and putting in place services that address those needs. In this context, it's a process undertaken by public bodies, like central government department or local NHS bodies. It's a decision making process that most frequently involves the procurement (purchasing) of services by either grant-funding or competitive tendering for contracts (a process of which voluntary and community organisations are frequently a part).

Commissioning is carried out by local and national government and public bodies (like local councils or hospitals) who have a statutory responsibility to commission services to meet needs. Commissioning has grown in significance as more and more public services are delivered by external organisations (like the VCS) and as social needs change.

Commissioning and procurement can seem overwhelmingly complicated at first. This section aims to take out the element of fear, and give you confidence and knowledge to become involved in public service commissioning and delivery.

Commissioning resources on KnowHow NonProfit

Income for delivering public services is the sector’s largest source of funding. Think carefully whether public service delivery is the right strategy for you. The commissioning and procurement section is a wiki so you can help make it even better. You can also read contribute to our guide to commissioning for maximum value.

How-to guides

These practical, step-by-step guides written by our KnowHow community. Around commissioning we have:

Commercial masterclasses

Designed and delivered by a cross-sector partnership (ACEVO, AVANTA, Capita, Ingeus, NAVCA, NCVO, Serco and Social Enterprise UK), these masterclasses are the first in a national programme funded by Office for Civil Society at the Cabinet Office with pro-bono support from our private sector partners. The masterclass programme aims to build the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector’s commercial skills for public service delivery. The masterclasses are a national year long programme of two-day training to build public service delivery skills.

Visit the events listing for further details of the commercial masterclasses

Other key documents

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