Interview with Government Procurement leaders part 2

Here's the second part of our interview with John Collington (Government CPO) and David Smith, his deputy and DWP, Commercial Director. (Part 1 here).

Can you update us on the technology side of things?

ProcServe is going to act as the marketplace sitting on top of Departmental ERP systems. We’re leveraging the DWP experience in that area. Then we’ll be going out to the market for E –Sourcing and Spend Analysis solutions. There’ll be an OJEU advert for that soon, subject to final business case approval.

I guess there are some obvious contenders for that?

Yes, but it may be one supplier for each or a consortium approach – we really want to see what the market can offer. Our aspirational target for getting that in place is end of 2011 – we’ll settle for end of the financial year though.

What about advanced sourcing and optimisation type tools?

We have to accept we’re not at the level of maturity of a BP, Heinz or P&G yet. But there will  be opportunities to use technology to do some interesting ‘joining up’ horizontally across Departments as we mature our use of consistent enabling technology.

Moving on to the capability issues, isn’t the idea of the ‘licence to practice’ a bit bureaucratic – and creating a ‘closed shop’ for procurement?

What we’re looking at is already used in many functions and even in procurement – it’s really a ‘delegated procurement authority’, as many organisations have in place, which says a particular individual is capable of spending taxpayers’ money. We don’t think that is unreasonable - we can’t have billions being handled by enthusiastic amateurs.  And it’s been too easy for Departments when they address their £40Billion of specific spend to think ‘we’ll just bring in the consultants when we have a big project.’

We want government to grow our own expert professionals. We’re developing standard operating procedures for key procurement activities, we’re looking to develop consistent approaches and apply common skills. This should be a fantastic opportunity – the scale and profile of what we’re doing is massive, so it would be great if professionals saw a stint in the public sector as a ‘must have’ on their cvs.  We want to be able to attract the best people.

And Buying Solutions is now in transition?

We’ve appointed David Shields into the position of Managing Director of  Government Procurement Service, the service delivery arm of Government Procurement, which will incorporate many Buying Soltuions activities and people.  So that role reports to me (Collington), along with Sally Collier who heads up the Procurement Policy side of things.

Finally, I’ve heard that the OGC website may be scrapped with the loss of much of the good material that sits on it. Is that true?

We will have a ‘Government procurement portal’ that will replace the OGC and Buying Solutions websites. But that will still have material from the OGC website within it – although that material must of course reflect the new direction of travel in terms of strategies such as ‘lean procurement’. But we won't throw the baby out with the bathwater...

Thanks guys!

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