Down the Procurement Pub with the CBI, Capita and Hockeysmith

I had a meeting in Searcy’s Club business lounge on the 38th floor of the building known as the Gherkin in London yesterday. Wow. What a view. You can walk around almost 360 degrees, and it was even better than the view from the excellent Galvin at Windows restaurant at the top of the Hilton Park Lane (which I confess I have also visited recently. Special offer set lunch, you understand). If you get an invite to the Gherkin, or can persuade your firm to pick up the membership for the Searcy’s Club, then it’s worth it for the views alone.  No beer though, just coffee.

I also yesterday attended the launch of the CBI (the UK employer’s body) Public Services Network, a new forum / community designed to help “CBI members to keep in touch with the latest ideas on public service delivery”. It was a short but good event with Margaret Hodge, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Amyas Morse, Head of the National Audit Office and John Cridland of the CBI speaking. I did somewhat disgrace myself however by interjecting in the panel discussion when a couple of comments about government procurement particularly annoyed me... apologies to the nice people who invited me but I do get a bit over-excited about public procurement at times. We are coming back to the CBI's recent report on public procurement here next week as well.

We’ve also got more on supplier diversity coming up, and one startling number caught my attention the other day. Capita, outsourcing service providers par excellence, announced excellent results, and said that last year they won two-thirds of all the contracts they bid for!  (I assume that ratio is public and private sector, so this is not just a government issue). That’s a remarkable percentage certainly. But what does it say about competition and supplier diversity, I wonder? Answers on a postcard please.

And finally... the most exciting track I’ve heard this year and actually for some time. Starts slowly, so don’t get impatient, give it 30 seconds. Hockeysmith are two sisters, early twenties, who apparently live in a caravan in Cornwall, although there is some evidence that they’re not exactly the daughters of impoverished itinerant labourers. But who cares – even if Daddy turns out to be an Earl, this is odd, hypnotic, unclassifiable and absolutely brilliant. Even the somewhat cheesy guitar solo that seems to have crept in from another track altogether. Love it. And remember, when they are huge, you heard it here first.

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