Updated Outsourcing Playbook – now the “Sourcing Playbook”: The Cabinet Office has published PPN 03/21, which announces the third annual refresh of the Outsourcing Playbook, rebranded as the “Sourcing Playbook”.  PPN 03/21 applies to “in-scope organisations” (Central Government Departments, Executive Agencies and Non-Departmental Public Bodies).

In February 2019, the Government published a suite of documents: The Outsourcing Playbook – Central government guidance on outsourcing decisions and contracting and accompanying Outsourcing Guidance Notes. These were published following study of what, why and how the Government outsources services, prompted by the fall-out from the collapse of Carillion in January 2018. The Outsourcing Playbook introduced key new policies capturing the approaches and behaviours required in central government outsourcing of services. The 2019 Outsourcing Playbook and Guidance Notes were last updated in June 2020, with the publication of PPN 05/20.

The most notable update to the Sourcing Playbook in 2021 is the inclusion of information on use of the Social Value Model. Mandatory use of the Social Value Model by in-scope organisations was announced in PPN 06/20, in September 2020. This was followed up at the end of November 2020  with publication of the full Social Value Model and accompanying Guide,  to be used for all new procurements from 1 January 2021.

Refreshed Guidance Notes

The Sourcing Playbook is supported by eleven Guidance Notes. Three of these Guidance Notes have been refreshed:

  • Delivery Model Assessment
  • Bid Evaluation
  • Should Cost Modelling

New Consultancy Playbook

PPN 03/21 also announces the publication of the Consultancy Playbook, which provides specific guidance on sourcing consultancy services. The PPN refers to this supporting the Cabinet Office agenda of commissioning and engaging with consultants more effectively, achieving better outcomes, better value for money and improved civil service capability through transfer of knowledge and skills.

This adds to the suite of Playbooks, including the Construction Playbook announced by PPN 09/20 The Construction Playbook, published in December 2020.


Links for further information

PPN 03/21 and the Sourcing and Consultancy Playbooks

PPN 09/20 and the Construction Playbook 


Bevan Brittan Articles on the Playbooks and Social Value Model

Article on the publication of the original Outsourcing Playbook and Guidance Notes, February 2019

Podcast on PPN 05/20 and the updated Outsourcing Playbook and Guidance Notes, June 2020

Social Value Model
PPN 06/20 Taking account of social value in the award of central government contracts

Social Value Model and Guide

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