John Collington resigns as Government Chief Procurement Officer

As we reported unofficially last week (the first media outlet to have the story of course), John Collington, the Government’s Chief Procurement Officer has resigned.

However, we certainly didn’t see his choice of destination coming – he’s off to become Chief Operating Officer of Alexander Mann Solutions, a leading “Recruitment Process Outsourcing” firm. They’re pretty substantial with over 1500 people worldwide, so not quite the “small firm in Bracknell” that someone told me he was joining (although they do have a Bracknell office!)

We might have expected consultancy, or software, but Collington has been involved in shared services in recent months and has a track record in outsourcing from his time at Accenture and I believe even before that. He’s got strong operational skills which should play to the COO role – some may be surprised that he hasn’t gone to a CEO position but I don’t think he has ever had full P&L responsibility before, so that might have been a risk for him and any organisation that offered him such a role. This looks to me like a senior role in an interesting, progressive company, where he should succeed and build his reputation further. He may also have got a good deal on the share options.. (pure speculation there!)

We’ll look further at what this all might mean for government procurement later. Francis Maude gave Collington a glowing testimonial, as we might expect – as we said last week, this was Collington’s decision, he wasn’t pushed. But then Cabinet Office have to spoil it by talking nonsense – here’s Supply Management:

 According to the Cabinet Office, Collington has reduced overall spend on goods and services from £51 billion to £45 billion and spend with SMEs is estimated to have doubled to £6 billion, along with a 73 per cent reduction in spend on consultancy and contingent labour.

We accept he has helped to reduce spend but given he has no budget of his own, it’s a bit much to say he “has reduced overall spend...”

And as Cabinet Office themselves know very well, they have no clue whether spend with SMEs has doubled, given the robustness (or lack of) around the data as we pointed out a while ago – Ministry of Justice counting large PFI special purpose vehicle companies as SMEs for instance. I doubt very much whether it has doubled anyway,

But, being positive again, Collington has raised the profile of procurement in his time in the role, he’s been a good communicator and impressive public face for the profession, and he’s achieved some difficult stuff that no-one has done before in public sector procurement. I understand why he’s going now, I think it’s probably the right thing for him personally, and I genuinely wish him well.   Whether it is bad news for public procurement is harder to tell until we know what happens next!



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Voices (5)

  1. epoch:

    Bill Crothers to fill the gap, at least in the short term.

  2. Final Furlong:

    I hear that they may not replace Collington (in the long term) on the basis that the role of CPO wasn’t particularly successful.

    To state that he took spend down by £6 billion while increasing the spend with SMEs by, erm, £6 billion, is very very silly.

  3. Stephen Heard:

    What with Collington and Whatmore going does this make David Shields the most senior Procurement official left in Cabinet Office? Any price on Dave Smith moving over from DWP and becoming CPO and CIPS President? Now that would be something!

    1. Rob:

      There are three folk left in the mix (at that level): David Smith (Dep CPO and CPO for DWP), David Shields (MD of BS/GPS) and Bill Crothers (ED of SRM, ERG/GPS).

  4. Hugh Cox:

    This change of personnel opens up the prospect of a genuine opportunity for SMEs to re-engage with the government in the provision of services in a meaningful way. To date a large number of the savings and efficiencies successes have been based on perception.
    We can now look forward to the Cabinet Office taking an objective view as to how the SME community can actually deliver value for money, in its time of greatest need.

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