DMFD26 Procurement of Travel and Accommodation Services
Report LFC-0139 to the London Fire Commissioner seeks approval to award a contract for travel and accommodation services to Corporate Travel Management Limited (CTM) under the collaborative National Health Service framework for Travel Management Services (SBS/16/SB/ZXS/892) and includes streamlining supporting business processes to reduce transaction costs.
The London Fire Commissioner Governance Direction 2018 sets out a requirement for the London Fire Commissioner to seek the prior approval of the Deputy Mayor before “[a] commitment to expenditure (capital or revenue) of £150,000 or above as identified in accordance with normal accounting practices…”.
The Deputy Mayor for Fire and Resilience:
Approves the expenditure of circa £1m by the London Fire Commissioner for the purpose of awarding a contract with Corporate Travel Management Limited for the delivery of travel and accommodation services.
Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice
The London Fire Commissioner’s requirement for travel and accommodation services includes train, air travel and hotel accommodation. Currently, the Commissioner’s annual spend is approximately £240,000. The National Health Service (NHS) has let a collaborative framework for travel and accommodation services. The framework is led by NHS Shared Business Services and is a collaboration of parties across the public sector. It is available to all public sector bodies, including the London Fire Commissioner.
The new proposed contract using the NHS framework provides an online booking system and a helpline for phone-based support. Services will be invoiced on a monthly basis with a single consolidated invoice. The contract is based on the payment of the actual price of the travel ticket, hotel room, etc., plus defined transaction fees. There are no associated framework fees charged under the new contract. Accounting for the annual expenditure by the Commissioner and the basis of the contract pricing, the contract value is expected to be around £960k, over four years.
The transaction fees charged by CTM under the new framework demonstrate a significant reduction over the current charges, as set out in the table below:
Transaction fees under the current contract per booking
Transaction fees under the new contract per booking
Savings on transaction fees per booking
The new contract under the NHS collaborative framework provides best value for the Commissioner. This is achieved by the reduced transaction fees and the improved back office efficiency on booking and invoice processing will also provide best value.
- Contracting with the current supplier (CTM) under the new framework will avoid the need for additional training of LFB staff as the supplier’s online system would remain the same. Consequently, continuing with the current supplier—but within an advantageous framework—removes set-up costs for the Commissioner. Report LFC-0139 (see Appendix 1 to this decision) provides details about the improved and streamlined processes and the reporting and invoicing arrangements offered to the Commissioner through the award of this contract. The anticipated benefits are:
- It will reduce the transaction workloads for all LFB departments because individual Purchase Order Management System (POMS) orders will be replaced by one annual POMS order. The time spent by departments in booking travel will be significantly reduced.
- It provides accurate data and information workflows i.e. the travel booker strikes the deal in a live environment thereby securing the travel and accommodation at a confirmed price without vulnerability to dynamic price changes in the market.
- Given the increased accuracy of order information, invoice to order matching is vastly improved thereby reducing the non-value adding administrative remedial work previously undertaken by the POMS team in processing monthly invoices.
- The ease and accuracy of invoice processing has the potential to allow LFB to fully automate the invoice processing in the future. The current process relies on a .pdf version of the invoice and is not truly automated.
- Handling credits separately will reduce adverse impacts on the invoice processing.
- The change in the processes will remove the majority of the issues regarding invoice processing that exist with the current process. The new process facilitates more financial accountability and control within departments for their travel budgets.
Section 149 of the Equality Act (2010) includes the Public Sector Equality Duty which applies to the London Fire Brigade when it makes decisions. This duty requires them to have regard to the need to:
a) Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other behaviour prohibited by the Act. In summary, the Act makes discrimination etc. on the grounds of a protected characteristic unlawful.
b) Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
c) Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not including tackling prejudice and promoting understanding.
The protected characteristics are age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, gender, and sexual orientation. The Act states that ‘marriage and civil partnership’ is not a relevant protected characteristic for (b) or (c) although it is relevant for (a).
The commitment to equalities is reinforced with the following inclusions in the NHS framework.
The Supplier shall:
a) ensure that (a) it does not, whether as employer or as provider of the Services, engage in any act or omission that would contravene the Equality Legislation, and (b) it complies with all its obligations as an employer or provider of the Services as set out in the Equality Legislation and take reasonable endeavours to ensure its Staff do not unlawfully discriminate within the meaning of the Equality Legislation;
b) in the management of its affairs and the development of its equality and diversity policies, co-operate with the Authority in light of the Authority’s obligations to comply with its statutory equality duties whether under the Equality Act 2010 or otherwise. The Supplier shall take such reasonable and proportionate steps as the Authority considers appropriate to promote equality and diversity, including race equality, equality of opportunity for disabled people, gender equality, and equality relating to religion and belief, sexual orientation and age; and
c) the Supplier shall impose on all its subcontractors and suppliers, obligations substantially similar to those imposed on the Supplier by Clause 26 of this Schedule 2b of these Call-off Terms and Conditions.
d) The Supplier shall meet reasonable requests by the Authority for information evidencing the Supplier’s compliance with the provisions of Clause 26 of this Schedule 2b of these Call-off Terms and Conditions.
This is further supported by the specification for the framework which states:
The Supplier shall arrange any supporting services required by travellers with specific needs, the details of which will be provided at the time of booking, for example, assistance upon arrival, wheelchair ramps at a station and assistance to board a train.
An Equalities Impact Assessment has been completed which has shown that there are no negative impacts on the equality groups, however, the associated Brigade policy on travel and accommodation will contain improvements e.g. advising travel bookers how to approach considering the needs of different equality groups such as arranging assisted luggage handling in the case of a disabled person travelling by train and how these will be supported by the supplier. As such, this will promote understanding and foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
The London Fire Commissioner and the Deputy Mayor for Fire and Resilience have considered the duties under the Act, including the duty to foster good relations in the community and the requirement to advance good relations between those who share protected characteristics and those who do not. They note the lack of negative impacts between groups and that there are no opportunities to advance relations between groups, nor in the community, with this decision.
Procurement and Sustainability
Under the terms of the NHS framework, the Commissioner can directly award a contract to Corporate Travel Management, their current supplier, thereby making savings on current prices and reducing procurement costs. The new contract will also support the streamlining of transaction processes, thereby reducing the costs of administration.
The contract term will be two years, with options to extend up to two years. The new contract for travel management services will provide the following scope of services:
b) Domestic, European and International Air Travel;
c) Ferry Services;
d) Accommodation, including Hotels;
e) Conference and Event Planning; and
f) Venue hire.
Page 49 of the London Safety Plan commits the Commissioner to: “… maximise how it spends public money, ensuring that the Brigade is supported through intelligent systems and data, property investment, procurement, vehicles and equipment”. Further, the Plan commits the Commissioner to: “explore the potential for other shared service arrangements to ensure that the Brigade offers the best value for money to the public”. This decision supports and delivers upon both of these strategic aims.
A detailed travel policy with procedural guidance will be developed by Procurement and People Services departments so that staff understand the new processes. This will also include their particular roles and responsibilities as well as authorisation levels and the limitations on what travel and accommodation elements can be booked under the contract.
Collaboration with the Greater London Authority
Travel and accommodation services forms part of the common and simple group of items which is managed by the GLA Collaborative Procurement Team (CPT). Previously, Capita had been awarded the contract to supply the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), but it became apparent that Capita was unable to fulfil the Commissioner’s requirements for a number of reasons:
a) Capita could provide an e-invoice with supporting information; however, the format was incompatible with the Commissioner’s system requirements.
b) Capita were unable to provide all of the required data (such as individual order numbers making up the consolidated invoice).
c) Capita offered to develop a reporting solution to the above issues at a charge of £5k. However, Capita subsequently withdrew this offer because of their own impending system changes.
d) Capita refused to engage in further discussions to resolve the data workflow issues for invoicing and reporting purposes. At this point, the Commissioner explored other collaborative frameworks. The NHS framework provides a solution that meets the needs of the LFB.
The GLA’s Collaborative Procurement programme has scheduled a re-procurement of Travel with the intention to award a GLA contract later in 2019. Given the pressing need to have a compliant contract in place, the proposed contract award to CTM will have a restricted duration of two years with an option to extend for up to a further two years, if required. This facilitates engaging with the GLA collaborative procurement to include the Commissioner’s requirements; joining the GLA contract in 2021 if requirements can be fulfilled; and enabling the alignment of contract expiry dates thereafter.
This report seeks approval to award a contract for travel and accommodation services to Corporate Travel Management Limited (CTM) under the collaborative NHS framework for Travel Management Services.
The new contract is expected to streamline processes and also provide a savings on transaction fees. The current annual spend of £240k includes transaction fees of approximately 3-4%, i.e., £7.2k – £9.6k. Based on an average savings of 37% on transaction fees, it is expected that there would be a savings of £2.7k – £3.6k per annum that can be incorporated into the budget process.
Based on current annual spend of £240k, the value of the contract is likely to be £960k if it runs for four years. However, the actual value will be dependent on the Commissioner’s travel and accommodation requirements each month. As noted above, travel and accommodation costs are included within the revenue budget and will be reviewed each year as part of the budget process. The expenditure is to be funded through sums available to the Commissioner. There are no direct financial implications for the GLA.
Under section 9 of the Policing and Crime Act 2017, the London Fire Commissioner (the "Commissioner") is established as a corporation sole with the Mayor appointing the occupant of that office. Under section 327D of the GLA Act 1999, as amended by the Policing and Crime Act 2017, the Mayor may issue to the Commissioner specific or general directions as to the manner in which the holder of that office is to exercise his or her functions.
By direction dated 1 April 2018, the Mayor set out those matters, for which the Commissioner would require the prior approval of either the Mayor or the Deputy Mayor for Fire and Resilience (the "Deputy Mayor").
Paragraph (b) of Part 2 of the said direction requires the Commissioner to seek the prior approval of the Deputy Mayor before “[a] commitment to expenditure (capital or revenue) of £150,000 or above as identified in accordance with normal accounting practices…”.
The Deputy Mayor's approval is accordingly required for the Commissioner to procure travel and accommodation services under a new contract in value above £150,000 as proposed in this report.
The arrangement proposed is consistent with the Commissioner’s power under section 5A of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 to procure services they consider appropriate for purposes incidental to their functional purposes.
The proposed service has been procured in compliance with the Public Contracts Regulations 2015. The NHS Shared Business Services has conducted a compliant OJEU procurement to set up the National Health Service framework for Travel Management Services (SBS/16/SB/ZXS/892), from which the General Counsel notes in the report that the Commissioner is able to make a compliant call off.