Maude stays in place – any changes for UK public procurement post political re-shuffle?

So Francis Maude won’t know whether to feel relieved or disappointed I suspect. All in all, it is probably good news for public sector procurement that we have the continuity of him continuing in his Cabinet Office role which includes oversight of public procurement – he’s probably there till the election in 2015 now. He has set a clear course for the procurement agenda, and has been the most knowledgeable and influential Minster we’ve had in terms of procurement.

He will be disappointed that he didn’t get a promotion to the full Cabinet – but perhaps also relieved that his errors with “jerrycans” and “kitchen suppers” have not led to a demotion. It could have gone either way.

But I wonder whether he is going to be somewhat distracted in the new Cabinet Office? He not only has a new junior Minister, the winsome Chloe Smith (ex Paxman savage-ee), he also has the now under-occupied former Cabinet Minister, Ken Clarke, as a Cabinet Office colleague.

And Treasury looks like it might be powering up to make a bid to get back into the public procurement game, after it lost its power base to the Cabinet Office post election with the Office of Government Commerce transforming into ERG in the Cabinet Office.

So in a major coup, Paul Deighton, the highly rated (hooray!) Trinity economics graduate (boo!!), LOCOG Olympic CEO (hooray!!) and ex Goldman Sachs banker (boo!!) is to be ennobled so he can become a Lord and a junior Minister in Her Majesty’s Treasury, with responsibility for the National Infrastructure Plan and overseeing the new private finance initiative model. If Deighton is a man of action,  it’s hard to see how he can avoid treading somewhat on Maude’s procurement toes.

Even BIS looks stronger with the addition of Michael Fallon, a formidable player on the Treasury Select Committee, and Matthew Hancock, ex adviser to George Osbourne, joining as junior Ministers. They will also have some views on the link between public procurement, business and economic growth I'm sure. So Maude may face a bit more internal competition in terms of defining procurement strategies and issues.

And I’ll give you one cast-iron prediction. I’m going to write about this in more detail shortly, but here is a taster...  in the next two years, I’m certain that the focus is going to shift from procurement as a cost savings mechanism, to using public money to drive economic growth. Deighton could be instrumental in that – can Maude and his officials change their tune fast enough to respond?

Voices (3)

  1. AJSM:

    Your “cast iron” prediction is spot on, Peter. But your timing’s out. North of the border there’s been a recognition for some years of the importance of public procurement as an economic lever. Check out what the Scottish Goverrnment is proposing through their Procurement Reform Bill at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2012/08/economy10082012

  2. life:

    Very interesting stuff. Continuity for him maybe, but everybody who works for him seems to be leaving! I thought this was interesting:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9513128/Top-civil-servants-face-pay-cuts-for-failure.html

    “Mr Maude also accused some officials of trying to thwart Coalition plans by creating divisions between ministers.

    As an example, he said that at a recent meeting between officials from his office and those from another department, the permanent secretary claimed that it would be difficult to achieve an outcome because “your minister … doesn’t get on with my secretary of state”.

    This was untrue and “designed to give a signal to all the officials in the room that they needn’t bother about what Francis Maude wanted”, he said.”

    Not that you can believe anything in the press, but he appears to be slightly paranoid and talking about himself in the third person, and he’s only two years in! Who knows where we’ll all be by the end of this….

    1. Peter Smith:

      I heard that the other Minister then confirmed to his Permanent Secretary and other officials that indeed he did NOT get on with Maude. Which has the ring of truth, otherwise I would have expected the Perm Sec to be disciplined for saying what he did to Cabinet Office officials!

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