05 July 2001 | Robin Parker
The competence of the Metropolitan Police Service’s procurement department has been called into question after an internal audit revealed spending on supplies and services went nearly £20 million over budget in the past year.
Auditor KPMG’s wide-ranging review of the Met’s purchasing for 2000-01 found that spending in this area reached £67.3 million, a 40 per cent increase on the preliminary budget of £47.9 million.
The figure includes £6.3 million extra on DNA testing, a £3.9 million overspend in vehicle removal contracts, and additional spending on vehicle hire. The Met blamed a general increase in the cost of outsourcing contracts for the figures.
“Public-sector bodies must invest in skilled procurement staff if they wish to manage their expenditure effectively,” Ian White, of public procurement consultancy Bentley Jennison, told SM. “As one of the larger public bodies, the Met needs to apply this principle more fully than most.”
The report also said that the force’s IT and communications purchasing and implementation budget went £6.9 million over budget, an excess of about 17 per cent. It blamed this on internal changes and “a lack of clarity on aspects of IT communications-related outsourcing contracts”.
The Metropolitan Police Authority has commissioned nine spending reviews, including a report on supplies and stores, ahead of a further review of financial management for 2002-03. It admitted that its responsibilities include “the mammoth task of bringing the Met’s archaic financial management systems up to present-day standards”.
No member of the Met’s procurement team would comment on the report’s findings.