Public Sector Procurement Round-Up

You may not have noticed, but we try not to overdose on public sector procurement here. I have  general rule that no more than one post a day will be purely public sector, unless there is some really big story of course. But sometimes it would be easy to do more  – I noticed last Friday for instance that the top four stories on the Supply Management website were all public sector.

And we don’t seem to have slowed down too much over the summer. As well as the Rail franchise award last week, the Olympics, and the Channel Four outsourcing article / video, last week saw a number of other stories that we may get round to covering in more detail. But in case we don’t, and to avoid a glut of public sector stories, here are the headlines and the links if you missed them and want to know more.

The DWP contract with Atos for health checks on benefits claimants needs better performance and risk management, says the National Audit Office.  I was surprised that there are still questions around how the quality of the assessments should be measured by DWP – I seem to remember debating that in 1996-7 (as Procurement Director of the then Department of Social Security) when we first outsourced  this sort of activity. All about Type I and Type II errors, for you statisticians, and how to link supplier incentives to the results in terms of those two error types.

Procurement Guidelines for NHS Commissioners published we probably will come back to this, as the whole area of health commissioning is going to be in the public spotlight over the next 2-3 years. I’ve only glanced at this document so far, and it seems to leave quite a lot up to commissioners’ discretion. It still looked a little vague on when and how EU procurement regulations will kick in, but seems to suggest they do apply. Do Commissioners understand all the implications of that, I wonder? But there’s also some good sensible advice around proportionality, choice, competition and other key issues. The guidelines are being positioned as a consultation so you can respond  here if you want to (up to October 26th).

Scotland to use “community benefits”  in public procurement  - the Scottish Government, in a consultation document on the Procurement Reforms Bill, has proposed that buyers must consider “including community benefits clauses” in major contract or explain why not.  (Of course, the really key point is whether “community benefit” is included as an evaluation criterion in the supplier selection process – the document is less clear on that?  Wales have pioneered the use of this in contracting processes).  Back to Scotland - the consultation includes further proposals, such as making the use of the Public Contracts Scotland web portal compulsory. As well as being interesting in its own right, the issues  raised here suggest some questions for English public procurement – more on that later this week!

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Voices (2)

  1. Sam Unkim:

    Hi Peter
    You seemed to have missed (MP & Member of the Health Select Committee) Chris Skidmore’s classic advice
    “It is time that we looked at displaying the cost of disposable supplies on their packaging – so that NHS staff would know exactly how much the items they use cost ”

    Here is a thought, why not stay with showing the price on the Bin or Shelf they are drawn from, as is done at present

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