Government Procurement Service – half-year report

Another pre-Christmas publication we didn’t get to before the holidays was the half year 2012/13 report from the Government Procurement  Service (the operational arm run by David Shields, rather than the entire CPO’s agenda).

We commented on their end of year report for 2011/12 here, and this new report follows the same sort of format.  There’s a lot of facts and figures in here, clearly presented, but what is really new or interesting? Well, the GPS target of £10bn managed spend target for 2012/13 has now been increased to a forecast of £11.3bn. Some £500M of that has come from the transfer of the Home Office Procurement Centre of Excellence (PCoE), which handles low value spend, into GPS.

The collaboration with the Pro5 collaborative purchasing organisations  (YPO, ESPO etc.) and with the devolved administrations appears to be going well, with much less mutual suspicion than we saw a few years ago. And it sounds like the spend analysis programme, powered by BravoSolution technology, is beginning to pay off in terms of helping GPS understand spend then develop specific plans to work with individual departments. However, the report still doesn't tell us what sort of "compliance" GPS is getting from each Department on the major spend categories.

Average procurement lead time (to deliver projects) has come down to 115 days from over 200 a couple of years back – although unfortunately the market’s view of this is coloured by some issues and delays on certain high profile frameworks, such as ConsultancyONE and Legal Services.  But I’ve seen some of the work GPS is now doing around very detailed and structured planning of procurement exercises, including a strong focus on pre-procurement market and stakeholder engagement. It is genuinely impressive and bodes well for future contracts, we hope!

There will be a strong financial performance this year, “GPS expects to contribute £5.7m to the Procurement Investment Fund.., up from £2.2m in 2011/12”. Which begs the question - where is this money going and what is it being used for? It was targeted at improving capability across all of central Government procurement – so some further clarity there about how it is being spent would be useful and interesting.

Another new initiative is the Strategic Procurement Service

“ A team was created in September 2012 as a fully flexible resourcing model within GPS to support the delivery of high value, complex and strategic procurement and sourcing projects in Central Government. .. the team is supporting nine ‘live’ projects, with a further seven in the initiation stage. Spend influenced to date is in excess of £900m, with a number of successes, including the DECC Green Deal for SME brokerage services, Cabinet Office Electoral Registration Transformation Programme and DfT Shared Services competitive dialogue”.

That’s an interesting and, I think, worthwhile move, even if it is taking more work away from external consultants, already suffering because of the dramatic reduction in consulting spend by the public sector.  GPS will also need to position themselves carefully, so they’re seen as a useful resource by heads of function in the Departments, rather than a threat to their very existence.  But there’s no doubt that many public sector organisations struggle to resource their occasional, high risk or unusual projects, so if GPS can help fill that gap, it will be a positive step.

Finally, GPS  have appointed a new non-executive director – we wish him well, and it looks like a good choice.

“We have welcomed a new Non-Executive Director (NED), Rob Wilmot, who is a founding member of the internet service provider Freeserve and brings a wealth of experience from the internet, telecommunications and eCommerce industries which complements the expertise of the other NEDs on our Board”.

I remember Freeserve! I think they were the first ISP I used when I went on-line... now whatever happened to them?

 (Answer: bought by France Telecom, then part of Orange / EE).

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