Down The Procurement Festival with the Tax Payers’ Alliance, Reading Festival and Cosima

Yes, as you read this (assuming it is Friday) the entire Spend Matters UK/Europe senior management team - yes, both of us - has decamped to Reading Festival for the day. We will have regular reports from the Festival over the weekend, with today’s highlights (we hope) likely to include Declan McKenna, Toothless, Cosmina and You Me At Six. Tune in over the weekend for our reviews anyway.


So I’ve had a bit of a “staycation” this week, with the aim of switching off from Spend Matters for a few days. However, I ended up doing a few phone calls and I did crack and write a couple of articles - but generally the aim was not to spend all day on procurement matters. Instead, I went for a most enjoyable 20 mile bike ride (thanks to Guy Allen), did some non-procurement writing and sorted out my study, which involved going through literally thousands of old documents, reports, presentation, notes and letters, which of course were all about … procurement. Can you spot the flaw in my plan there?

But, is it worrying that I found notes about projects I have no memory of whatsoever? And the somewhat depressing (yet interesting ) finding is how little seems to have changed (in some ways at least) in 20 years or more of the procurement profession. Indeed, in some senses we have gone backwards, without a doubt. But more positively, I came across various documents that suggested really good and relevant topics for articles and features in 2017 – so look out for those in coming weeks!


Not much new emerged this week in general procurement news terms but the Tax Payers Alliance published a report on public procurement which was in some ways better than we expected but still fell into a couple of the “traps” that those who don’t really know much about the subject fall into, such as an exaggerated view of the power of economies of scale. But there is some good stuff there as well; we’ll have more on this next week but you can read it here.


If you read this around 5.30 pm on Friday we will be listening to Cosima at Reading, a hotly tipped Peckham girl who combines some of the chilled vibe of The XX with a charismatic, timeless soulful voice that reminds us of both Nina Simone and Sade.  Very nice.

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Voices (4)

  1. The Guitar Man:

    Have a look at ‘Government Purchasing: A multi-departmental review of Government contract and procurement procedures, Cabinet Office, December 1984’ and its 39 recommendations – still spot on! (I still have a copy – how sad is that!).

  2. Dave Coley:

    The more things change the more things stay the same Peter – may be a fact or a by product of us being around for a few years 🙂

    1. Final Furlong:

      Indeed Dave.
      Let’s take a trip down memory lane to over 20 years ago.
      Upon reading the findings and recommendations in “Goods for Your Health:
      Improving Supplies Management in NHS Trusts” (Audit Commission, 1996) one could actually believe that it had been written this year…

  3. Dan:

    Re: your first point. Some time ago I was working for a Council that had decided to centralise its procurement team in a bid to realise greater efficiencies. When packing up to move to a new, larger, office, they came across a report that had been filed away.

    That report recommended that procurement be centralised as a way of allowing the Council to realise greater efficiencies.

    It had been written in the 1930s.

    To this day, I’m still not sure if they accepted the report, centralised and then later decentralised, or if it just took them 70+ years to actually carry it out. Either one is possible.

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