Commissioning glossary

Commissioning glossary


The process of specifying, securing and monitoring services to meet individuals’ need at a strategic level. This applies to all services, whether they are provided by the local authority or by the private or voluntary sectors.

Consortium (plural consortia)

Several organisations working in partnership to deliver a service or project, or share management or administration functions.


Putting the purchasing of services in a legally binding document.

Collaborative commissioning

Two or more agencies co-coordinating their strategies for using their resources.

Intelligent commissioning practice

A model of commissioning that should foster effective competition for public services and ensure that commissioners secure the benefits that voluntary organisations can bring to public service delivery. The principle elements are:

  • a sound understanding of user needs
  •  a well-developed understanding and management of markets
  • good procurement practicer with choice of funding (grant or contract), and during the pre-award phase, price determination and the post-award performance management.

Place Shaping

Place-shaping is the responsibility of local government and all the local partners in the public, voluntary and business sectors. It is about creating attractive, prosperous, vibrant, safe and strong communities where people want to live, work
and do business


The term covers every aspect of securing or buying services.

Provider Framework

Sometimes the tendering process will lead to a number of organisations being put onto a list of providers that have been quality-checked and are able to deliver a service - a kind of 'approved provider' list. This is sometimes called a framework. Commissioners can then procure services from this framework. 

Services Market

Describe how the purchasers and providers of services do business with one another. As in all markets, there are different combinations of purchasers and providers, interacting differently in all the service sectors for each of the service user groups and sometimes differently within the same authority.


A formal and detailed description of the service/goods that are required.

Third sector

Another name by which the non-profit, or voluntary sector, is known. This term, favoured by the previous Labour Government has now been replaced with the term 'CIVIL SOCIETY'.