Down the Procurement Pub with David Smith, Peter Coates, Bola Afolabi, Ms Mr, and the (invisible) Labour Party

Well, no surprise about today’s lead story – last night’s CIPS Surrey branch meeting featuring David Smith and a “Lifetime in Procurement”, with me acting as his straight man.  However, it was  a) a very sober event and b) like an idiot, I forgot to take some pictures of the throng enjoying anecdotes of rock music in the 70s, procurement’s development and other delights.  So a picture of my favourite brewery instead, (Windsor and Eton),  and many thanks to everyone who came - hope you enjoyed it.

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And another retirement went official this week. We had the scoop back in May  but this week Peter Coates, Commercial Director at the Department of Health announced that he is retiring on the 29th of November. As he said in his message to his contacts; “it is time for me to move on given the long term nature of many of the remaining projects, which need to be seen through by people who will be here for the next 4-6 years”.

Congratulations to him and I’m sure he won’t disappear from the health and / or commercial scheme completely. I don’t actually know how old Peter is – he looks exactly the same as he did 10 years ago as far as I can tell – but we’re hoping to interview him properly before he goes and ask him deep questions about life in the Department of Health over many years!

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Well done to all the winners of the Pan African Procurement Awards  last week, held in Johannesburg. Supply Management has got the full list of winners here. 320 people attending seems like a pretty good turnout too. Particular congratulations on their “lifetime achievers” awards to two people I’m privileged to have met - Bola Afolabi and Karen Van Vuuren -  who gained that award along with Douglas Boateng and Misheck Kaoma. I still remember the great impact Bola made from his very first CIPS Council meeting, over 10 years ago now...!

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After the UK government issued its report last week outlining progress on the SME (small business) agenda, we pointed out that “progress” was in fact painfully slow, which was not how it was “spun” in the announcement.  We then saw an impressive response from the opposition Labour Party, highlighting the gaps in the government programme, the Minister’s lack of belief in using public procurement to stimulate economic growth, and putting forward their own interesting ideas in this space...

Oh sorry, that was just a dream. Labour said... absolutely nothing, just as they’ve failed to comment on pretty much any of the procurement ideas and initiatives coming out of Cabinet Office and government over the last couple of years. Whether we agree or disagree with whichever party, it would be good to see some political debate about these important issues. The fact we’re not getting any is a real indictment of Labour’s apparent lack of energy, interest and imagination in this space.

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On that note of energy and imagination, as you read this, I will probably be at Reading Festival – one of today’s highlights (I hope) being Ms Mr, a New York based duo, who make a moodily attractive and atmospheric noise that should go down well on a hot summer’s afternoon... look out for our review tomorrow!

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