Government eMarketplace – collaboration without centralisation?

Nigel Clifford, Chief Executive of ProcServe, sent me this (see below) as an email, in response to our posts regarding public procurement organisation.  However,  it seemed to really add to the debate around the topic, so whilst he is of course highlighting what his own firm does,  I thought it was balanced and interesting enough to feature (with his permission of course) as a ”guest post”.

It has been fascinating to follow the discussion following the  Public Administration Select Committee hearing on public procurement in late January.  You raised some interesting concerns in your argument against centralised public sector procurement in your recent article  but we would counsel against throwing the ‘accountability baby’ out with the ‘efficiency bathwater’!

We have been working closely with public sector organisations to give electronic access to the best deals (local or central) over the Government eMarketplace – or ‘Amazon for Government’ in shorthand.

The key is real time information on what is available from over 20,000 suppliers available on this network. We connect buyers to all relevant contracts and suppliers so that the best available deal can be assessed by local buyers who retain accountability for making the wisest purchasing decisions for their organisations. The centrally managed deals are a very valid option and should provide a super benchmark so any buying professional can assure themselves of the best price and supplier options available using the biggest buying muscle in the UK  before they press the button and buy. It’s true that not every school will want an aircraft carrier…but more realistically they will buy pens, much as the Borough of X or the Department of Y will, so why not amalgamate that need?

Finally if there is no relevant content available on the marketplace then the GeM product allows users to run a mini-competition with local/relevant suppliers to create a value for money and properly competitive result.

So, we believe you can have your cake and eat it – access central deals for common goods and services or buy local. But either way you are safe in the knowledge that you are getting the best deal for the taxpayer – and you retain your autonomy to make that decision.

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