06 September 2001 | Robin Parker
Mendip District Council has insisted that its development of a procurement strategy will address the Audit Commission's recent judgment that it has a "poor" service.
The commission's best-value inspectors found an "ad hoc and fragmented" approach to procurement and contract management at the council. It said there was no central monitoring of Mendip's 187 contracts, including a £2.5 million Capita contract for outsourced IT, administration and financial services.
The council has complied with all the inspectorate's recommendations, including the implementation of a central comprehensive electronic register of all contracts, and the formation of a procurement strategy, according to Graham Jeffs, Mendip's chief executive.
"Procurement and monitoring of the range and number of contracts that we have is a challenging area," Jeffs told SM. "We knew we were not as methodical as perhaps we should be and that's why we chose procurement as the subject of our first review."
The council has put elements of sustainability in all contract letting and devised a consistent method of evaluating bids. "We are accepting bids for legal services at the moment, and the contracts we've drawn up require a substantial amount of detail to meet our corporate contract management requirements," he added.
A major restructuring of the procurement department, including a rationalisation of staff, and a more structured, sectional approach to individual areas of contract management, will provide a more effective service, Jeffs said.