How we work
The principal functions of the Operational Taskforce are to provide services in the following ways;
- provide a free helpdesk facility to help public sector managers on operational issues;
- develop guidance for the public sector on operational issues;
- maintain a database of information about operational projects;
- gather and make available information about issues raised on projects via the helpdesk, identify market trends and ensure best practice is widely disseminated;
- undertake operational reviews of long-term service contracts with the primary aim of providing forward looking advice to project teams to improve performance;
- negotiate any codes of conduct with the private sector that are required to provide a consistent approach across older contracts; and
- manage the Refinancing Taskforce which assists authorities in applying the refinancing code of conduct.
Operational Taskforce Helpdesk
The helpdesk was established to provide support to public sector contract managers dealing with operational issues but is available to all. In the first full year of operations, over 200 helpdesk calls have been taken and issues resolved.
You can click here to email the helpdesk.
Contract Management Strategy
The Taskforce helps public sector clients establish their approach to contract management in advance of the project becoming operational, so that issues such as handover, staff training and contract management and governance structures are appropriately planned for and managed. The principles of best practice are contained within the Transition guidance published in March 2007.
Benchmarking and Market Testing
The Taskforce provides hands-on advice and support to PFUs and contract managers who are managing a benchmarking or market testing process. This support can build upon the principles contained within the Benchmarking and Market Testing Guidance published in October 2006 in order to ensure that the process runs smoothly for individual projects.
The Taskforce supports contracting authorities in negotiating major changes that meet the public sector’s needs on terms acceptable to contractors. Guidance is expected to be published in 2007 setting out a change protocol for existing projects where an approach in accordance with Standardisation of PFI Contracts - Version 4 (SOPC4) principles is appropriate.
The Taskforce, building on the experience of dealing with previous contracts and contractors that have suffered distress, provides well-targeted central support, helping to minimise the adverse effects on public sector bodies of contractors having financial or operational difficulties.
The Taskforce undertakes, on request and subject to certain conditions, operational reviews of long-term service contracts with the primary aim of providing forward looking advice to project teams to improve performance.
Changes in Ownership of Contractors
The Taskforce is able to advise contracting authorities on any particular issues regarding proposed changes in the ownership of contractors, including whether or not the change involves a possible refinancing of the project. It will create and maintain a database of information about ownership of PFI consortia.
The Taskforce offers a dispute mediation service between contracting parties with the aim of helping both sides reach agreement on issues that may otherwise become contentious and expensive to resolve.
The existing Refinancing Taskforce continues to be available as part of the Operational Taskforce as a resource to contracting authorities in respect of compliance with the Refinancing Code of Conduct.