Our exclusive interview with the duo leading UK government procurement

We spent an hour recently with John Collington (Chief Procurement Officer for Government Procurement) and David Smith, his deputy and still Commercial Director for the Department of Work and Pensions. They're leading the range of initiatives in UK central government procurement, including the 'centralisation' of spend across a range of key categories.

Over the rest of this week, we’ll feature the interview in some detail, and then finish with our interpretation of how this high profile programme is getting on. But to whet your appetite, here are some of the highlights in terms of what we learnt.

  • Staff from Departments won’t be transferring into Government Procurement, but “where agreed, will operate on behalf of Government Procurement”.
  • Better management of the £40 billion annual department specific spend is also a key priority, as well as the initial primary focus on common goods and services (£13 billion pa)
  • We won’t see single large contracts for all the centralised categories - the "optimum supply strategy will be developed specifically for each category"
  • The “mandate” is therefore around adherence to category strategies
  • Some categories will have considerable focus on SMEs (e.g. Professional Services). Others will not (e.g. Energy and Fleet)
  • Open Procedure ‘needs to be used properly’ – it shouldn’t be increasing the burden for SMEs
  • New competition for E-Sourcing and spend analytics technology should be launched soon
  • Licence to operate – “a development on existing delegated procurement authority, with a focus on LEAN processes”
  • Government  procurement portal will replace OGC and Buying Solutions websites
  • Procurement leaders in Departments “working hand in hand with the ERG Centre to deliver reform of Government Procurement”

So stay tuned for part 1 of the full interview tomorrow, and many thanks to Collington and Smith for sparing the time to talk..

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