Crown Commercial Service – Important Senior Appointments

In December, the National Audit Office produced its report on the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), the UK procurement organisation for “common spend” categories across UK central government. We gave an overview here, but digging into it more closely, there are a whole range of interesting points to note.

As we said last time, many of the criticisms and issues really go back to the previous regime (political and executive) and the new CEO, Malcolm Harrison is building a largely new senior team – so they probably have a year or so to show they have got the organisation on the right track.

We will come back to some of those NAO points shortly, but it is already clear that the new top team is shaping up nicely. Just before Christmas, we happened to meet an old friend of ours, Peter Lawson, and discovered that he is now working for CCS as the Director with responsibility for the professional and HR related services range of categories and contracts – or “Strategic Category Director – People” as he is formally described.

peter_lawson_2Peter was Head of Procurement at the Bank of Scotland in 1999 when they made their audacious takeover bid for NatWest, where I was Group Procurement Director.  There were no hard feelings – we knew each other through CIPS as well, and both being from the north-east of England probably helped our relationship! RBS then came into the bidding and eventually won, and Lawson later joined RBS where he was part of the senior procurement team for some years.

He has worked in the NHS more recently and all in all, he is a sharp, experienced and knowledgeable procurement professional – he’s got a good sense of humour and is stimulating company too, a man who is not afraid to challenge and provoke, in a good way.  If he can adapt to the politics of central government (in both senses of the word) he should be very good news for CCS.

We don’t know Samantha Ulyatt who also recently joined CCS as one of Lawson’s peers - as Strategic Category Director for “Buildings”.  But she has a good pedigree having worked for the nuclear business of Babcock International, heading up their supply chain function. Previously she held senior roles at both E.ON and United Utilities; she will also be a much-needed top team presence in the CCS Liverpool office.

The other very interesting appointment is Amabel Grant (see picture above), who is leaving Basware to join CCS as Commercial Strategy Lead for the Crown Marketplace programme. This really is full circle for Grant. She worked in the old Office of Government Commerce in the early stages of developing Zanzibar, the first government e-marketplace, and became part of Procserve when it was spun out of that work.  As we reported here, she then took a role as UK MD for Basware when that firm bought Procserve in 2015.

Grant really knows her stuff when it comes to e-commerce, and hopefully she will bring some sense of direction to the Crown Marketplace work – we know it has made some progress, but it does need to show real results sooner rather than later.  She’s an effective manager too, and another very good addition to the CCS team.

We’ll keep you updated with CCS of course and come back to the NAO report; but good luck to all the new and relatively new appointments at CCS– every taxpayer should wish them well.

First Voice

  1. Secret Squirrel:

    Doesn’t the ‘Zanzibar’ to ‘Crown Marketplace’ Grant full circle show that any lessons of the past haven’t been learnt? Why will it work now when Zanzibar failed? What’s the difference in approach, especially now when the ‘mandate’ has been squandered and the funds to invest in technology have gone.

    To me, it screams white elephant.

    That said, I firmly agree that I wish them well.

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