Friday, 19 July 2013

'... creating a single independent procurement organisation for central civil government...'

So instead of lots of little troughs we'll have one huge one. That should work.”

A, some might say, slightly cynical response from “Glycon” to ideas put forward in Is the Ministry of Justice to blame for the G4S overcharging scandal? a piece by Colin Cram, these days an independent "public sector consultant specialising in procurement" and founder and MD of Marc1 published today in the Guardian on the matter of “government procurement” following on from the recent what we must at this stage quite clearly refer to as “allegations” that all is not well, possibly to the tune of £50 million,  with certain contracts originally issued by the Home Office but as a result of machinery of government changes that are now the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice.

The issues under discussion in the G article by Colin Cram were also covered in a recently released, and seemingly so far very much overlooked except outside “the business” and the G report Making Public Service Markets Work from the  Institute for Government.

Colin was obviously attentive to below the line comments on his piece and duly responded to Glycon.

“The current model for central civil government emerged unevenly between 23 and 13 years ago from very devolved procurement in government departments. There were some very big benefits from the change. However, times have changed, supply markets have become increasingly global and much more globally competitive, challenges are greater and much greater expertise is needed, which each government department could not afford to duplicate - even if there was any point in doing so. Other countries are beginning to get their act together re public procurement - which will leave the UK at an increasing disadvantage in a few years' time. Public procurement must change to meet today's challenges and environment, not yesterday's. It must also have the capability to anticipate and meet tomorrow's.”

And Glycon responded “Big it up, Col.”
A slightly longer response came from Kenneth Widmerpool

“Commercial organisations often initially establish themselves as consultants to government departments. They don't transfer their knowledge back to government (why would they put themselves out of work). Having obtained inside knowledge they are ideally placed to know how to offer their services as contractors. Because a lot of government services are so specialised they can then present themselves as the only credible providers of these services and walk away with massive contracts. Simples.”
With that Institute for Government report “on the table” and as of today, the two volume report from the Public Administration Select Committee investigation into Procurement also published (Colin Cram was called as a witness) the issue will surely get the proper attention it deserves.