Holmes and the Mystery of the Procurement Tender

So, Holmes," I asked Watson, throwing down my dog-eared copy of Supply Management.  "What do you make of this, eh? Buying Solutions recruiting Category Leads for six spend categories".

He stirred from his opium-fuelled reverie. Although it was a warm April afternoon, Holmes had no liking for sunshine and the curtains were three-quarters drawn against the brightness.

“That seems a perfectly logical move given the Government’s desire to drive centralised buying, Watson. I fail to see what troubles your excitable little mind, my medical friend.”

Ignoring my friend’s rudeness, I continued.

“But Holmes, it was on February 4th that the highly esteemed journal, Spend Matters, announced that a review of Buying Solutions was to take place. Has that been concluded? Why have we heard nothing, yet here they are, recruiting a veritable phalanx of senior procurement practitioners”?

“Interesting, I grant you. And I can see by your expression you have more”?

“Holmes, I have observed that the categories for which they are recruiting are as follows:     Energy, Travel, Fleet, Professional Services, Learning and Development and Office Solutions. Yet only two weeks ago, the highly respected Mr David Thomas announced to the world that his organisation, HMRC, was leading on three categories; including office supplies and learning & development. So how can HMRC claim leadership and yet Buying Solutions are recruiting Category Leads for two of the very same areas? And I also hear rumours in the taverns of Whitehall that a tender for the provision of Office Supplies has been issued, which suggests both  Buying Solutions and HMRC are heavily involved in the process”!

I saw the familiar gleam appear in Holmes’ eyes. He uncurled his legs from his chaise longue, placed his opium pipe carefully on the sideboard, and gathered his familiar coat and deer stalker.

“Come on Watson! There is not a moment to be lost! To the Cabinet Office! The game is afoot”.

“What do you mean Holmes?” I cried.

“My dear Watson, I have no idea. But I desire excitement; and this mystery surrounding the structure of the operating model for strategic and organisational delivery of centralised procurement across Whitehall spending Departments must surely provide the adrenalin I crave. I can conceive of no more exciting subject”!

And with that, he was gone, calling for a hansom cab even as he raced through our door and onto Baker Street …. (to be continued)

Voices (4)

  1. bitter and twisted:

    Pan-public-sector stationery supply contract?

    Time to open a chain of stationery shops with branches close to all the big public sector offices !

  2. Barry Henniker:

    In conversation with Hercule Poirothere just this morning (a Belgium natioinal but talking on behalf of the EU) we were both struck how the unfolding British Government procurement drama now emulates that most French of traits – saying one thing and doing entirely another. We then touched on another arcane but non the less important dimension to pan government collaborative procurement – called “who are the contracting entities”?. Contracts (as distinct from frameworks) let by government departments are awarded for and and on behalf of the Secretary of State creating the legal relationship with the supplier(s) So Mademoiselle, in the future will we see all contracts let for and on behalf of the government handled by Cabinet Office in the name of the Prime Minister? Oh La La.

  3. Christine Morton:

    Watson? Holmes? Mr. Smith?

    I’m guessing that “WH Smith” would be one of the few interested in a stationery category and resultant tender, but please – repeat after me –

    For most ordinary organisations, stationery is not strategic. I repeat: stationery is not strategic.

    Can we move on to more grownup things please?

  4. Dan:

    It’s the meeting of two great bueracracies…

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