Civil servants will publish £50 billion of contract opportunities – and procure the solutions themselves
Public officials will no longer be able to hand over complex procurement to consultants, Cabinet Office Ministore Francis Maude has decreed.
Maude told attendees at the Crown and suppliers conference that defaulting into a comfort zone of hiring external consultants to run any kind of complex procurements was a waste of money since they neither drove simplicity nor achieved goals quickly.
Aiming for DIY procurement
In a move that he believes will enhance competition in the supply chain and drive innovation, Maude announced that government would “Ensure that in future we focus on outputs and outcomes. And we now forbid the use of consultants in central government procurements without my express agreement.”
He also stated that using consultants was counterproductive to necessary skills development among public officials, and said central government would now insist that “Every official running a significant procurement is trained to run it swiftly and efficiently.”
“In the wider public sector where there are thousands of ‘commissioners’ and we want to develop a Commissioning Academy to train them. There is a need for capable and courageous procurement people in the public sector equipped with the skills to engage knowledgeably and confidently with suppliers.”
Maude noted that as a by-product of thie timid approach to procurement in the public sector, UK-based suppliers were being excluded, opportunities for growth being missed and procurements in the UK cost on average £46,000 in the UK compared to around £19,000 for comparable procurements in France.
UK companies have been losing out to foreign suppliers, he added. “In the same 12-month period while British companies won £432 million of EU contracts, French firms won £911m and German firms £3.6bn. The UK awards 3 percent of public procurement by value to foreign suppliers, compared to 1.9 percent in Germany and 1.5 percent in France.”
Maude also announced several steps that would be taken to support this new approach, including publishing details of £50bn of potential business opportunities across Government along with data forecasting potential contracts over £5 million, with over 150 potential opportunities in various sectors. Maude will also be going toBrusselsthis week with a view to negotiate for a radical simplification of the relevant directives at an EU level.