PC Pro confirm – Green Review used dodgy data. Now there’s a surprise…

You may remember the report by Sir Philip Green on UK government procurement? He identified major opportunities for more aggregated procurement across government, and used some examples of price discrepancies for commonly purchased items across different goevrnemtn departments.

Our view at the time was that the report made some good points, but was very simplistic. And we just didn't believe that some of the price comparisons were truly "like for like".

Here is my comment from the Supply Management blog last October (just before they blacklisted me for being a "competitor").

I would also need to see the detailed evidence to be persuaded that some of the quoted price comparisons (e.g. £8 to £73 a box for paper) are truly like for like. The detail isn’t really there in the report to have full confidence in the examples given..

PC Pro magazine thought the same and tried to get more information about the laptop price comparisons made in the report. They were fobbed off initially, which didn't say much for the government's commitment to openness, but eventually they got the details. And sure enough, the comparisons were not like for like.

They've got a letter from John Collington, Government CPO, which explains:

“You will note the laptop computers do not convey an accurate like for like hardware comparison.. The figures quoted in the review were not based on just the hardware specifications but also their specific configurations (e.g. security configurations) and other services provided (e.g. desk-side support, printing capability etc).”

The Green report was used to justify the move to centralised procurement across Whitehall. That still seems like a sensible move, and a few dodgy numbers don't invalidate that. However, it isn't great for Cabinet Office credibility that a high profile report contained such errors - whether that was because of haste and poor data in the first place, or a deliberate attempt to bolster a particular argument, we'll never know. I suspect the former actually. (And it's worth noting that the Green work was done before Collington's appointment and prior to the infrastructure of Government Procurement being set up).

But well done to PC Pro for finally getting to the bottom of this particular issue.

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Voices (3)

  1. John @ GPC2011:

    Hi Peter,

    Just to let you know – The Government Procurement and Commissioning conference is being streamed live from Westminster tomorrow [Wed 21 Sept at 9:45AM).

    Feel free to tune in and watch live here:


  2. Dan2:

    In other news, sky is blue…

  3. Final Furlong:

    “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is King.”

    We all knew what the problem was. The Green review was nothing more than a poke in the eye.

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