Exclusive! Sir Philip Green report due ‘early next week’; watch out for the bananas…

I understand that Sir Philip Green's report on UK public sector procurement is due to be published early next week - probably Monday subject to Ministerial sign off.

He has found the lack of good product level cost and spend data from Departments frustrating (to say the least); and he has (I'll told) tried to do some very detailed price benchmarking across a range of commonly bought items.  Sausages and bananas have been mentioned amongst the benchmark items (but I don't know whether my sources are just winding me up - seems somewhat unbelievable!)  But if this is true, I look forward to the recommendations around standardising on the "Government sausage"!

Travel has been another area of focus, so watch out for comparisons of prices paid for hotel rooms or rail tickets. (Hard to be meaningful given we now have what is in effect 'dynamic pricing' for those items, with room rate pricing for instance changing by the hour...)  And no doubt there will be some good red meat headlines for the Mail around public sector profligacy.   But I hope it isn't just going to be a "why can't Government be more like TopShop" report  - because Government isn't like TopShop.  We'll see anyway and we will of course be doing a full review of the output here.

Voices (3)

  1. m wilson:

    Look it’s easy to go into any large organisation and find savings (as an ex government auditor (I did it all the time). However, I suspect Green has gone in looking at government as a single entity. It is not, the Police are an independent body as is local government, the PCTs, schools etc. They all have their own procurement policies and management processes. Will Green be suggesting that there be a single procurement arm for all of gov? I suggest not. The Thatcher regime couldn’t even see the sense in the existence of a single supplier for central gov stationery, the HMSO, so having something similar for other sub arms of government is unlikely – and even if possible what would that do for competivenesss elsewhere in the economy?

    The Government has just gotten rid of the Audit Commission, suppliers of audit to local authorities, it’d be odd if it now starts saying that central provison is bad in terms of audit but good for everything else?

    Read elsewhere that Green is complaining about 6m mobiles being purchased in the public sector – not sure where he gets that figure as most central gov departments couldn’t tell you how many phones they’ve got. If what he’s reported as saying is correct – do the maths – how many phones would each public employee have – even going down to hospital porters etc. it’d be a big ask to allocate that many phones to all government employees.

    The stuff dripping out at the minute, leads me to suuspect that Green is a little out of his depth and is busy counting the pennies he recognises and ignoring the ones he doesn’t e.g. the cost of decentralising procurement (on efficiency) grounds as pursued by Govs since Thatcher – now coming home to roost.

  2. Mark:

    Frankly it would be amazing if he didn’t find waste in Govt Procurement. Take the housing programme whch is done at armslength through Housing Associations, Thanks to the need to be “OJEU Compliant” these days almost all RSLs operate approved contractor and consultant panels, which last for three years. This fossilises the tenmder lists to a group of what one might xcall the “usual suspects” all to be seen entertaining lavishly at the housing world’s annual bash at Harrogate. We recently tendered a small ( sub OJEU ) project amongst four tetnderers, two from the OJEU list and two outsiders. Unsuprisingly the outsiders came in lowest- by 30% !!!

    According to the Sunday Times, Green has found alarming differences in what differnt police forces are paying for uniforms, and all of them higher that what PG thinks they ought to pay, there is little or no sense in allowing this to continue, and noe has to ask why a standard police uniform with provision for local badging wasn’t sorted out years ago by the Home Office, ditto for cars, as I bet there’ll be some force paying over the odds- not because of corruption but becausethey aren’t buying enough to make the deal intersting to vendors.

    IN the intertsts of “fairness” the public sector operates approved tenderer / supplier lists, all of which contribute to reducing competition. NO wonder there’s waste and inefficiancy, the profit motive is not being brought inot play.

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