Efficiency in Civil Government Procurement†
- 1. THIS STUDY WAS commissioned in January 1998 by the Ministerial Cabinet Committee on Public Expenditure (PX) to take forward efficiency issues in procurement arising from the government’s Comprehensive Spending Reviews. Our terms of reference were:
“To work with departments and others to assess how central government can secure continuous improvement in value for money from their civil procurement of all goods and services over the lifetime of this Parliament and beyond, and to report by April 1998.”
- 2. GOVERNMENT POLICY IS that all procurement of goods and services should be based on value for money. To that end, we wanted to build on and add to the efficiency gains in procurement which departments have put in place following the publication of the procurement strategy White Paper (Cm 2840) in May 1995. We also wanted to identify particular areas and action which would achieve further significant gains, a step change in inter and intra departmental working and improvements in relationships with suppliers. We identified a number of areas which will enable government to concentrate its procurement expertise on strategic (ie high risk/high complexity) procurement. Our recommendations for action range from “quick wins” (1-6 months) to longer term proposals for more complex solutions (18 months to 3 years) – see “Summary of Action Recommendations”. The broad areas covered are:
- electronic commerce;
- collaboration and joint procurement;
- performance measurement; and
- procurement staff development.
- 3. WE EXAMINED THESE subjects in depth with a wide range of people concerned with government procurement. We would like to record our thanks to all those who gave generously of their time to help us with this exercise, and on whose thoughts and ideas this report is based.
- 4. OUR BROAD CONCLUSIONS are set out in Chapter 1 below. The detailed reasoning behind these recommendations follows in the four subsequent chapters. Taken together, we believe that this package of measures will enable government to maximise procurement efficiency and effectiveness. The result (by releasing resources of time and money throughout departments) will contribute to the government’s drive towards Better Government.