Crown Commercial Representatives – male, pale and … very successful businessmen

If you’re thinking that we haven’t exactly been hot off the press with reporting on the appointment of six more UK government  “Crown Commercial Representatives”,  you’d be right. that's because I've been working out just what exactly I think about it...

They’re joining Cabinet Office to help central government manage their largest suppliers, and negotiate further savings, particularly in IT related areas. We understand they are in the main taking over work from current government CPOs, who have been doing this CCR role in addition to their departmental day jobs for the last couple of years.

The roles were widely advertised, and will  pay £500 a day. The new CCRs will work "between 2 and 5 days a week", depending on workload, according to the Cabinet Office.

The six are :

Andrew Tyler,  who stepped down as CEO of Balfour Beatty after the firm issued a profit warning earlier this year (followed by another one last week).

James Hall - Multi-millionaire ex Accenture partner and the man who first recruited his Accenture colleague Bill Crothers into the public sector.

Graham Jackson – ex Compaq, the one procurement / supply chain person amongst the six. You may remember Compaq, once quite a successful firm but got taken over by HP, one of those marvellous  large IT firms that Bill Crothers and Francis Maude are so complimentary about...

Michael Wade, from the insurance industry and a Conservative Party Treasurer.

David Jephson, who was CIO for Imperial Tobacco, manufacturers of all those lovely cigarettes. Man of mystery, he has virtually no digital footprint (or photo I can find)...

Rob Wilmot who was a founder of Freeserve, once a successful UK tech company but sold to the French. He is a relative youngster and brings the average age of the CCRs down to around 50.

OK, those were deliberately sarcastic and pointed one-liners. But they illustrate one nagging doubt here.

Are they really highly skilled negotiators  - which is a very particular skill? Or are they just jolly good chaps who fit into that archetypal successful business-person mould that Ministers feel comfortable with? And a note for Shirley Cooper – my goodness, what a non-diverse bunch this is (white, male, middle aged, British – OK, just like me).

We’ve got a few other questions about the role, which we’ll feature another day.  From discussions I’ve had on and off the record, I do believe that some good work was done in the first waves of the CCR re-negotiation activity, although quantifying that is another matter.  Even the National Audit Office has struggled with that.  And as we’ve pointed out before, we didn’t see any profit warnings from the big IT firms who were the main targets. (Ironically, we have now seen two profit warnings from Ian Tyler’s Balfour Beatty who are major suppliers to the public sector)!

However, is bringing on these supposed external big hitters really the best way to go in order to build on that initial apparent success?  And what are they actually going to do?

More in part 2.  (And we will feature Francis Maude's evidence to the Public Administration Select Committee shortly!)


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Voices (9)

  1. Sam Unkim:

    Can’t help thinking about how boring, the classic “cross-fade “Cry” video by Godley & Creme, would have been with these faces

  2. Must find a psuedonym:

    The local government press was reporting that Michael Wade would bring his insurance experience into negotiating better deals for local government on insurance. When Pro5 and GPS have just placed a framework for insurance for local government that looks as if it could deliver significant savings. Kerching, instant success?

  3. dan2:

    Is it just me or does anyone else have a nagging doubt that the visionaries behind the Crown Reps cpncept don’t understand procurement regulations and just how much ‘negotiation’ is permitted?

    1. Dan:

      You are free to negotiate once the contract is awarded, as long as it doesn’t substantially change the contract to the point where it could be classified as a new contract.

      Although, if the procurement team were doing their job properly, you could argue that there should be no need for post-award negotiation

      1. PlanBee:

        Yes, cos thats the best time to negotiate, once the contract has been awarded.

        Oh dear no wonder my taxes are so high!

  4. Dan:

    I should have tried to get a job with Accenture when I graduated – it does appear to be a job for life…

    1. PlanBee:

      Maybe. But at least you still have a soul

      1. dan2:

        Souls are overrated

  5. Final Furlong:

    And here’s the up-to-date perspective of Civil Service World (or perhaps they have a sense of humour afterall…).

    At first, I did wonder if this approach was devised by Colin Cram (because it’s model that’s 30 years out of date) but having read the article, I’m very much mistaken (Colin: I apologise). With some pride, it seems, it dates back to Saxon times. Perhaps I need to dig out and start wearing my old Viking helmet to pay homage to such a thoroughly modern concept, especially when negotiating with my ‘tier one’ suppliers….

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