Government ‘lean procurement’ review – details and predictions

We reported a while ago that Cabinet Office had instigated a 'lean procurement' study.   Following a Freedom of Information request, we got a bit more information about it.

  • It is being carried out by 'lean experts' from HMRC (who themselves were trained in these techniques by Unipart), with input from Unipart consultants and others around Cabinet Office and Departments.
  • Unipart "were not paid to undertake this work".  The nation says 'thank you Unipart'.  (But see our recent comments re KPMG..)
  • It is focusing on Competitive Dialogue procurement, on the grounds I suspect that many long/complex procurements now go through that process. (Not sure I would have done that.  There are still plenty of badly run Restricted procedure procurements, which also have more scope probably for simplification and automation than CDs).
  • The review is focusing on the DWP and Foreign Office in terms of looking at experiences (might that be to cover a 'leading' Department in terms of procurement and a... no, let's not go there).
  • It should according to the project plan have reported back to Francis Maude before Xmas. (Will we need another FOI question to see the output?)

When we first heard about this, we felt that it was a bit "we've heard it all before" - there have been plenty of similar reviews and initiatives.  So here are my predictions for the key recommendations.

  • Project management will come out as the key factor in terms of time / resource efficiency and effectiveness.  That will include comments around need to make sure everyone involved (suppliers and buy-side) knows what they need to do by when - plan availability of evaluators, get your governance structure set up in advance, meetings in diaries etc.
  • Don’t start the procurement until you have lots of stuff in place already. You must have the PQQ buttoned down and be well advanced on ITT (or ITPD) when you launch the OJEU advert.   (Even if the Minister wants to announce it tomorrow…)
  • Some opportunity to compress timescales will be identified e.g. don’t need to give suppliers another 30 days to do PQQs after the end of the statutory expression of interest period.
  • Some recommendations about better use of technology, eSourcing tools etc.  Quite right too.
  • Opportunity to simplify evaluation processes, with fewer criteria and sub-criteria. Understand that being fair and open doesn’t mean you have to ask - and dialogue - about every single aspect of the work to be carried out.
  • Need to achieve a better risk balance in contracts to reduce time spent arguing over terms that were probably never going to get agreed.
  • Some re-stating of the obvious around not having too many suppliers in dialogue stage, make it clear at PQQ what the parameters are to discourage lunatic bidders etc.

We'll see how accurate those are shortly..

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