NAO to Review Crown Commercial Service Effectiveness

This Autumn the National Audit Office will carry out a review of how effective the centralisation of government procurement has been in the shape of the Crown Commercial Service.

The NAO website states:

“The Crown Commercial Service was launched on 1 April 2014, with an expanded remit from its predecessor organisation the Government Procurement Service. This value for money review of the Crown Commercial Service will focus in particular on its performance in procuring goods and services which are common to most government departments. In doing so, it will consider the degree to which departments and the CCS are working together efficiently and effectively”.

You will recall we wrote about some of the issues when we featured our interview with the previous government Chief Commercial Officer, Bill Crothers in January last year: "In Crothers’ view, respect for procurement prior to 2010 was low generally in central government, and the function was still seen as something of a backwater. It was fragmented, and although his predecessors including John Collington and David Shields had kicked off some good initiatives, data was still poor or non-existent. There was no real clarity on who the top suppliers to government were, for instance." Crothers thinks "we are more confident now, we have more sophisticated conversations with the market". It will be interesting to see whether that is apparent come the Autumn.

Sally Collier’s departure  and Malcolm Harrison taking over as interim CEO, also made an interesting story to follow up on. "As we have reported, that organisation (CCS) has had its problems since the move to centralise large chunks of central government procurement, which meant a lot of work was dumped at the door of CCS, without perhaps enough thought on exactly how it would be delivered. So Harrison has been looking at that issue; we assume he now gets the chance to put some of his thinking into action! Harrison has been working on the operating model for CCS for some time, and clearly the move to centralised procurement on behalf of all central government organisations has not been without its problems. Unfortunately, we don't know what that thinking is as yet ..." we said at the time -- but it looks like we will soon find out.

The NAO will have its work cut out to identify areas for improvement, if it wants to add value with this report, that the CCS isn't already aware of. So - it is open to suggestions or comments on the areas that the auditors might want to consider. The website is here.

Now - in true Spend Matters style - Peter Smith had a thing or two to say about the forthcoming report. "Ultimately," he says "the NAO does want to be useful to the “victims” of its value for money reviews and we’re sure CCS is no exception. So how can NAO add value? Here are some areas that might prove interesting and helpful ..." and if you would like to read in more depth what he has to say on that subject, you can pop over to Public Spend Matters Europe.

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