Bill Crothers, UK Government CPO, is awarded the CB in New Year’s Honours

Congratulation to Bill Crothers, the UK Government’s Chief Procurement Officer, who has been appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in the New Year’s Honours List. He wins it for “services to Government Efficiency and Commercial Capability”.

It is good to see procurement being recognized like this – and Crothers follows a handful of other honoured procurement staff over the years, most recently David Smith, Commercial Director at DWP, who retired recently.

To some extent the award is not a shock, given the high profile role he is in. But it is perhaps surprising that it has been made so soon – Crothers has only been in the role 18 months, and arguably his biggest initiative, the centralization of much government procurement, is really unproven so far in terms of results. Similarly, it is hard to argue that ‘commercial capability’ has significantly improved yet – the current major recruitment drive in Government Procurement Service / Crown Commercial Service may lead to that, but again it is a little early to say.

And unlike many recipients of the CB, (a pretty senior award, slightly outranking the CBE), he also doesn’t have a particularly long public service career behind him, having only joined the Identity and Passport Service in 2007 after a career with Accenture.

However, he has been heavily involved in the review of Serco and G4S in recent months, and in negotiations with these and other major suppliers to government - clearly he has impressed Ministers with that work, which has been somewhat out of the public view, for obvious reasons.

So, all in all, I am surprised that this happened now rather than in a year’s time when there will be more evidence of his success. Which does make me wonder if perhaps Crothers won’t be there 12 months from now! But that is pure speculation, I should stress… so let’s simply say congratulations to William Crothers, CB.

Congratulations also to Andrew Judge, Commercial Manager at HM Revenue and Customs. I don’t know him, we will try and find out more about his work and history, but he wins the OBE for “services to Government Procurement”.

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Voices (7)

  1. Michael:

    Have spent more then twenty years now submitting nominations via the public route for awards for those working in the arts. Thus, am more concerned about the awarding than the removal of honours. But it does look as if it might be not inappropriate for the Honours Forfeiture Committee to start considering whether there may be grounds to remove BC’s CB. Just saying…

  2. Phoenix:

    And I can think of a lot of other people who have dedicated many many years of earnest service in public service procurement beyond Whitehall – in local government, health, education, emergency services, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. What about them? Eighteen months? Ridiculous.

  3. Effwhitt:

    I don’t believe the immense effort being put in by the likes of Vincent Godfrey and John Fernau has been regognised nor has it come about because of the CCS and Bill in particular. So, whilst I applaud anything which raises the profile of procurement I believe the honour has been too narrowly awarded in too short a timescale…

  4. Trevor Black:

    We should all congratulate Bill Crothers as the honor can only help raise the profile of procurement which is still regarded as a second tier function in Government and many parts of the business community. If it only draws attention to the benefits of what good procurement can achieve to a few then you must regard this as progress.

    1. Bill Atthetill:

      Trevor, apologies, because I believe that, on this occasion, you are so very wrong.

      This is simply a shocker. People who normally receive these awards do so because they have pursued what they believe in for many many years, having made a difference in the lives of many people. Have you actually read about any of the other people who have received their CBEs or MBEs? DECADES of relentless work and effort, and often with a focus at the front-line.

      As Peter has (diplomatically) stated, Crothers has only been in post for just 18 months and has yet to deliver any real change (aside from publishing a new org chart populated with many individuals few people have heard of, indicating potential internal nepotism or convenience…) – even the Crown Supplier Reps was his predecessor’s (Collington’s) initiative, as was the GPS savings programme, so he can’t even put claim to those. He didn’t deliver anything when he was in post at the Home Office (the Police ICT company still hasn’t happened and the ID card scheme was closed down…can anyone think of anything he delivered while at HO? Anything?) And I’m sorry, but the G4S/Serco was hardly ground-breaking – just a witch-hunt to ask for some money (over-charging) to be returned. And, as we’ve read, he’s been given the green light to bring on board hundreds of consultants to speed things up – he can hardly fail, really.

      And Crothers isn’t even a procurement professional or procurement practitioner – he’s a ‘salesman’ (for the record, these are his words not mine…), so this makes a mockery of our profession.

      In comparison, David Smith dedicated his entire civil service career to procurement (and I’m sure, turned down many lucrative job offers from the private sector over those 30+ years) including time on CIPS Board and numerous trips to Africa to promote better procurement, when he was recognised with a CB.

      No, this is wrong in so many ways. This is quite shamefully a political award, made by politicians blinded by 18 months of listening to relentless sales-speak and spin. It’s disheartening and disillusioning.

      In truth, I was actually expecting Stephen Kelly, Cabinet Office’s COO (Crothers’ boss) to be the one to pick up something this year, but perhaps he’s been promised a knighthood in the next round…

      1. life:

        “People who normally receive these awards do so because they have pursued what they believe in for many many years, having made a difference in the lives of many people.”

        I’m sure some do, but many do not. The process isn’t a secret. Many are given out by rote just for having done a job – whether brilliant, indifferent, or worse. And I know some personally who just volunteered each other over the space of a few years. Recognition for some that get these awards for voluntary work / personal sacrifice and the like is a wonderful and hard earned thing, but otherwise should we, do we, really care? Maybe it’s not applicable to Mr Crothers who for all I know may have done some wonderful things, but getting an award for just doing your job is embarrassing and betrays privilege, rather than being one.

  5. Effwhitt:

    Can’t be happy about this until the people who did the real work are acknowledged….

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