Bill Crothers (FCIPS maybe) becomes Gov Chief COMMERCIAL Officer – CIPS to change name again?

Bill Crothers is now the UK government’s Chief Commercial Officer, rather than Chief Procurement Officer. Crothers has also stepped down as Chair of the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) - but we assume Sally Collier and the CCS team still report into him? Or maybe she doesn’t…

He will now be looking to strengthen commercial capability throughout the civil service, improving the management of complex contracts and ensuring the government acts as a responsible, intelligent and experienced client – so more of a focus on post-award contract management, a positive step and something we’ve seen developing over the last year or so in central government. Crothers is being replaced in the CCS role by Ed Smith, former chief operating officer at PwC Global Assurance, who becomes non-executive chairman of the CCS.


Bill Crothers

Perhaps there is some great hidden meaning in this but it looks like simply tidying up - aligning Crothers' job title with the CCS “commercial” terminology. But it does make you wonder if CIPS is behind the times - having changed its name from the Chartered Institute of 'purchasing' to 'procurement' (arguably not positive in many parts of the world anyway), it now finds its core UK public sector base deserting that procurement terminology - the new world appears to be about "commissioning" and "commercial" here.

What with that and Cabinet Office awarding the International Association of Contract and Commercial Management rather than CIPS the government contract management training contract, maybe CIPS should not have been so hasty to give Crothers his fellowship (FCIPS) after just two years in the “profession”? Since then, it is not clear that he has done the Institute too many favours anyway!

Indeed, after a couple of glasses of wine last night we thought we would try out the new CIPS “check whether someone is actually a CIPS member” service, useful for checking out all the people who claim that on their cv without ever taking an exam / paying their subscriptions. And we can’t find Mr. Crothers listed at all. He might have opted out of course (which you can), the system could be faulty (although I found myself ) or perhaps he hasn’t paid his £170 FCIPS membership fee. In which case of course he should remove that from his LinkedIn entry.

But behind the scenes, CCS is gathering more power and headcount. Senior category manager type roles and people have now been transferred out from major departments such as DWP into CCS, which all makes it more likely that it will in time succeed. That's the case whatever happens to Crothers (CB, B.Sc., FCIPS, possibly lapsed).

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Voices (6)

  1. Tom Cat:

    Methinks Mr Crothers knows a lot about shouting at suppliers (and consultants) but not a great deal about procurement (or whatever we choose to call it)…

  2. Dan:

    Could it be that central government are mistakenly thinking of ‘commercial’ as a profession rather than an attribute? People in all sorts of careers need to be commercially minded. It doesn’t mean they are a ‘commercial officer’.

  3. Mark Curry:

    “What with that and Cabinet Office awarding the International Association of Contract and Commercial Management rather than CIPS the government contract management training contract” – Can anyone supply anymore info which dept this was or more/info? [for research puporses]

    1. Peter Smith:

      Something here..

  4. Mick:

    Interesting piece as ever Peter. I don’t think there is any doubt that the Public Sector and changing the emphasis towards “commissioning” and “commercial”, but the Private Sector are placing much more emphasis on “supply chain” and “relationship management”. My worry is the focus on procurement is far too narrow in modern business terms and risks the profession (or indeed the importance of membership) being overlooked as a minor role in the bigger picture.
    CIPS may have missed an opportunity to move with the times. Maybe loyalty to the brand ‘CIPS’ is more important to them.

  5. Secret Squirrel:

    A less favourable reading would be that he’s being gently eased aside after getting on the wrong side of too many people but can’t be completely removed as it would undermine the messaging…..

    And the word I hear on the street is that the ‘transitions’ have nearly come to a stop.

    So my, perhaps unkind, reading of this is exactly the opposite and the organisation is doing what it always did…..but with now lots of people and no civil service sponsor with Kelly gone and Crothers effectively pushed to the side.

    My guess is that post-election, there will need to be considerable ‘corporate renewal’ to use the trite management speak they used at the PAC.

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