Procurement news October 1st; Maude takes charge, the EU consults, and the Aussies say “too b*****y complicated, mate!

On the day that the Ryder Cup introduces an exciting new product variant, golfsurfing*, we bring you the latest from the world of procurement.

More on Centralising UK government procurement

Various features in the press about Francis Maude's plans to centralise government procurement ahead of his meetings today with another bunch of major suppliers. He now wants to move beyond the 'immediate cost saving negotiations' into a wider approach to 'central' procurement.

"We have substantially changed the way we do business and now we need to build on the really positive engagement of the last few weeks. This means in the future there will be new opportunities for businesses of all sizes, but also further savings for us."

But still no real detail on how this will work.  How can a central body commit a Department (with its own responsibilities, accounting officer and so on) to a contract?  Not saying it's impossible but .. some thought needed.

EU announce review of public procurement

Michel Barnier, the European Commissioner for the internal market, wants to make public procurement more  targeted at wider 'societal' objectives "such as promoting innovation and fighting climate change".  I can hear thousands of public sector procurement folk, already struggling to balance VFM with competing 'policy through procurement' goals, groaning softly at this point.

He is also concerned that member states haven't moved fast enough to implement electronic procurement solutions, which could reduce costs for businesses and help to open up the market.  I'd fully support him on that one, and some careful tweaking of the regulations could certainly help there.  So, as European Voice reports,

The Commission is preparing two papers with policy options (one on societal objectives and one on e-procurement). It will put these out for consultation, with the aim of making legislative proposals in 2011.

Public procurement in Australia takes a kicking...

The Australian National Affairs says that auditors have found that, too frequently, Australian government procurement isn't going through proper tender processes or contracts are awarded on a single tender basis.

"The Auditor General has warned that taxpayers may not be getting value for money in up to three-quarters of government purchases", they report. For instance,  Departments didn't bother getting more than one quote in more than 85% of 'direct source' contracts.

Apparently, the Finance Department is going to rewrite the rules for procurement because "federal government departments and agencies did not understand them". I can understand that, I mean, let's face it, "get three quotes" is pretty complex stuff....

* My wife, as incisive as ever, said, "didn't they know it rains a lot in Wales in October"?  Good point...

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