06 January 2000 | David Arminas
Government purchasing professionals have expressed concern about the delay in appointing a chief executive for the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), three months before the new body is due to begin operations.
A decision had been expected before Christmas, but as SM went to press an announcement was still awaited. One senior professional warned that the delay was "not conducive to getting things done". There was "bound to be a certain amount of frustration over the length of time", they added.
The OGC's arrival was heralded in last year's Gershon review of central government purchasing, and is scheduled to be fully operational by April. It will drive forward best-value procurement methods, including the government procurement card and e-commerce.
The Patent Office, part of the Department of Trade and Industry, is brainstorming ideas for using e-commerce, "but we need a strong lead", said Alan James, its purchasing manager. "Target dates for e-commerce are being set without a target being discussed."
Gareth Jones, director of procurement at the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, said: "Until we know who the new head is, all development is on hold." Another source said the "sense of disappointment is palpable. The OGC is the only horse in town, but there is no rider."
Mike Burt, head of government procurement and development at the Treasury, which is setting up the OGC, told SM: "I can understand their concerns. Departments are fired up to take this forward, so there is bound to be some frustration." The delay, he noted, could be because the senior job needs ratification from Downing Street.