OGC moves into the Cabinet Office to form part of the Efficiency and Reform Group

Big news in the public procurement world; OGC (the Office of Government Commerce), including Buying Solutions,  will form part of the Efficiency and Reform Group (ERG) and report into the Cabinet Office (CO) rather than Treasury. However;  "property functions in the Office of Government Commerce and the Shareholder Executive will combine into a single unit responsible for property efficiency and will be based in the Shareholder Executive within the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills".

The Shareholder Executive (SE) manages the Government's shareholding in various companies, including Royal Mail, the Tote and Northern Rock.  I don't quite get that property angle, although I suppose the thinking is that the SE is also about managing assets.  But the core OGC move puts the central Government oversight responsibility for pretty much all the 'back office' functions into one place, as  IT, HR and Finance already sit with CO, so it makes sense from that point of view.  And it gives ERG some real and much-needed capability, which it will need to deliver on its procurement agenda (see my SM post here).

On the other hand, when Treasury was all-powerful in the Brown days (and don't they seem a long, long time ago....), OGC definitely gained some power by association.  I don't know that the Cabinet Office is viewed in the same way by Departments as yet, but under the coalition and Francis Maude it is certainly becoming a real power centre.

No news yet on what that means for individuals such as Nigel Smith, CEO of OCG or overall numbers, roles and so on; but I hear that it was presented to OGC staff in a 'not really that big a deal' manner, and they were assured that the Norwich office is not under any threat.  And the other interesting element is the return of Sir Peter Gershon to sit on the 'Efficiency Board' with particular responsibility for procurement.  Sir Peter has a number of other roles (Chairman at Tate and Lyle amongst others) so I assume this is very much part time; but we'll see what he brings to the party.

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