The Times on public procurement – must do better

It's good that the UK's newspaper of record, the eminent and august London Times, should feature public sector procurement, or indeed procurement issues of any nature. So I was initially pleased to see a piece last Thursday from John Lehal, managing director of Insight Public Affairs.

Here it is, although it's behind the paper's paywall.

However, it wasn't very insightful, saying that supporting small suppliers was a good thing, but we should also look for economies of scale. We need "fundamental changes to procurement" but it gave no real hint of how to do that, or balance the conflicts between localism and leverage.

Then I came to this.

"... the Office of Government Commerce (now part of the Efficiency and Reform Group) has the job of ensuring more centralised procurement across the public sector to ensure bulk buying and consistent prices".

As anyone who reads Spend Matters, or follows public procurement generally will know, OGC was killed off in the few months after the election. Some of its activities went into Cabinet Office and now form the Government Procurement Service, the operational arm of which is leading the centralised procurement of common categories across Whitehall. But other bits went elsewhere and some simply disappeared.

OGC does not now exist - it is, as they say, a dead parrot. So, in one phrase, any credibility for that article has gone.

We may not always agree with Colin Cram's articles for the Guardian website, but he did work in public procurement for donkey's years and certainly knows the subject. So please, Times editor, if you're going to feature public procurement, get someone who knows what's going on to write your articles.

I'd be happy to volunteer, and there are plenty of other folks who could help out too I'm sure!

First Voice

  1. David Atkinson:

    Might be an idea to send the journalist contact details of Cram and others.
    A link to Future Purchasing’s report by Hughes & Day might help too.

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