OGC Policy through procurement action plan – clarity for government buyers?

This report - the 'Policy Through Procurement Action Plan' -  came out a few days ago from OGC (the Office of  Government Commerce).

It lays out the priorities how government procurement can help economic recovery and to achieve other policy goals; issues we covered here and which I also wrote about for Spend Matters.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liam Byrne MP (bright guy, not a bad outside bet for the Labour leadership at some stage) said:

"Government spends £220 billion on goods and services, 95 per cent of which goes to British firms.

"As well as maximising value for money, the OGC's plans will make sure that Government procurement spending supports our small and medium-sized enterprises, encourages apprenticeships and better skills and reduces carbon emissions.

"Government spending power will help to lock in the recovery by providing support and investment to the businesses up and down the country."

So there are 3 clear priorities there; supporting SMEs, apprenticeships and carbon emissions.  What is interesting therefore is what is not included in that list; equalities, health and safety, supporting local businesses are among other areas that procurement people have been under some pressure to address in their contracting strategies.

So whatever you think of the list (and personally I think it is appropriate for the current economic climate) it does give confused public procurement staff some guidance as to how they should be prioritising these 'policy through procurement 'issues.

This sentence from the announcement may worry procurers a little more though:

"Progress will be supported and monitored by the OGC through the introduction of performance metrics, against which all departments will be expected to report regularly, starting in spring 2010".

Well, what gets measured gets done, as someone once said, but I hope the metrics will be proportionate and reasonable; and not the bureaucratic burden Jason Busch railed against in his recent post on the Equalities Act!

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