The Perfect Storm – Conclusions

OK, so it has been a bit of a marathon, but tonight we come to the final installment of our White Paper ('The Perfect Storm") on public procurement post election.

We will be making it available in its entirety soon (but I want to change a few things first). Here is the final section; not surprisingly, titled.....

Conclusion….and one final prediction

Life in the public sector is going to get tougher.  Efficiency savings will be more elusive than most currently expect.  Procurement has a major role to play, but it will not be easy, needs major change (including the sort of steps we outline here), and will be susceptible to a host of growing pressures; the ‘perfect storm’.

Those, put simply, are our conclusions.

And finally…we speak to many public sector procurement people.  There is a feeling even at the moment that public procurement is getting almost impossible to execute well, legally and in a cost effective manner; the Remedies Directive, FOI, different priorities fighting for procurement attention, a lack of resource or capability now (or certainly expected in the future) all feature in the list of concerns.  If pressures increase, from the move to publish contracts, more challenges, less resources, more demand for savings, then we may get to the point where our advice to public sector clients will be to outsource the whole problem.   Appointing an outsourced ‘procurement partner’ will be very tempting.  They may be able to take away much of the burden of EU regulations or other onerous constraints, and perhaps pursue savings on a more ruthless basis.

We are neutral about whether this would ultimately be in the public sector’s interest. Experience in the private sector includes some successes; the public sector has very few positive examples up to now. But it seems to us almost inevitable; and some recent announcements may be the beginning of a trend. It may also provide a route to accelerate some of the changes that are necessary.

If it does happen it may in time prove to be a positive development; in the short term though it will be a sign that the ‘perfect storm’ has hit public procurement. And if it does happen, the public sector must retain the ability to be an intelligent client; somebody still has to procure and manage the outsourced procurement service providers!

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