Procurement in Public and Private: Sifting through Survey Results

This post, written by Jonathan Messinger, originally appeared on Public Spend Forum

Our friends over at Spend Matters UK are sifting through the results of a recent survey they conducted of public and private sector procurement pros, asking their feelings about their own sectors and the other. It was a pretty substantive project, yielding approximately 200 responses split fairly evenly between the two, with 80% having worked in both sectors at one time or another, and just over 50% of public procurement folks having spent time in the private sector. Claire Herbert of Spend Matters UK notes:

It also calls into question the simplistic call for “more private sector procurement experts to go into government and sort things out”. Based on this sample, there are a lot there already! And plenty of folk now in the private sector have worked on the government side too. Of the public sector people, almost half hope to work in both sectors over the next ten years – for the private sector folk, that was around 30%. That’s still a significant number, which suggests despite some image problems (as we’ll see), wage freezes and the like, the public sector still has some attraction for private sector people.

You can read more about the demographics of the survey here, and a look at some of the numbers in a post about perceptions of the private and public sectors. The results are made all the more interesting, given the cross-pollination between the two sectors among the respondents. Perceptions, of course, only mean so much, but what sticks out to me immediately are the “commercial awareness of non-procurement staff” in the public sector. While private sector gets a 26.1 (it’s not clear what a top rating would be, but about the midpoint of the scale), the public sector receives a 1.7. That probably tells you all you need to know about the scale, and the general perception of what sort of obstacles the public sector is facing interdepartmentally.

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