New Zealand lawyers will be closely watching the All-of Government (AoG) panel for external legal services this year.
The arrangement was introduced with the aim of streamlining the way government departments and other government entities procure legal services. Following an extensive RFP process, the first panel of firms was named in December 2011 for a two-year period.
Forty law firms and barristers are currently on the AoG panel, which is used by 121 government departments, SOEs, universities and local councils.
Speaking with NZ Lawyer magazine, Chapman Tripp managing partner Mark Reese recalled, “There were lots of firms that missed out and were no longer eligible to get government work.”
“That has been a big change and affected not just the big firms but a lot of small firms and a lot of barristers, and there was quite a fuss at the time,” he said.
The panel contracts were renewed for a further two years in 2013, and the AoG panel arrangement is currently being reviewed to determine whether the government will exercise its final right of renewal in 2015 and extend the panel’s tenure for another two years, or whether firms will be asked to re-tender.
On average, the arrangement has delivered government agencies an 18 percent saving on legal advice.
“There’s somebody else intermediating between us and our client, which we always find a little bit frustrating, and it’s obviously put a lot of pressure on fees… and there are some feedback and reporting aspects of it which are a bit clunky and frustrating, but overall I think it’s been a good thing for the government to do, and it hasn’t been a major issue for us,” Reese reflected.
“The government work that we’ve been doing has probably increased. We do have to manage the work carefully to ensure that it remains profitable for us to do it. It’s had challenges but I think we’ve coped with them well.”