Exclusive! Ex-Treasury Boss Nigel Smith says Philip Green should ‘stick to his knitting’

I was speaking today at an event organised by American Express, who are looking to increase the public sector's awareness of their various procurement and payment solutions. I've also written a White Paper for them, which covers the challenges facing public sector procurement, and what procurement people can be doing to help meet them.  I'm going to feature  some highlights from the paper here over the next few days, and you can get a copy of the whole document from Ben McKee at Amex.  (Ben.E.McKee@aexp.com)

Anyway, Nigel Smith, who was Chief Executive of the Office of Government Commerce (in Treasury) until last month, was the keynote speaker.  And he was excellent - inspiring and moderately outspoken in places!

He talked in some detail about the Philip Green review - he agreed with some points made, particularly that improving the payment terms for Government suppliers, with no commensurate price negotiations, had been a waste of money.  However, he didn't think the current colaition was likely to do anything about it, despite the fact it largely benefits 'large multinationals' who 'don't pass it on to the SMEs in their supply chains'.

But in terms of the Green report generally, but said he had heard it described by influential folk in Whitehall as " a statement of the b***ing obvious".  Nigel pointed out that in some categories, smaller suppliers who provide flexibility and value could get lost in the 'bigger is better' approach, and he believes that some of Green's price comparisons don't compare apples with apples (I agree with him totally on that).  "Absolute sensationalism" was his description of the laptop price comparison - although "with a germ of truth" in terms of the recognised need to get more harmonised specifications.

He finished that part of his speech by saying that "the solutions are understood - we just need to get on with the implementation".

And to Green:  "I suggest you stick to your knitting"!

We'll have more from Nigel's speech (and the event generally) later this week.

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