16 January 2003 | David Arminas
Britain's largest police force is reviewing its outsourced contracts to improve on delivery and performance and assess value for money.
Steve Atherton, director of procurement at the Metropolitan Police Service, said contracts with an annual value of about £130 million will be reviewed over the coming months.
"Most of our contracts were let two or three years ago, each for a period of about five years, with extension options available," Atherton said. "This is the first major review and it will help when we re-let."
About 10 outsourced contracts cover services such as IT and facilities management. They account for 35 per cent of the force's annual procurement spend of £400 million.
Atherton said the contracts were let when outsourcing in the public sector was just starting. "At the time we very much outsourced the spend, meaning we wanted suppliers to deliver what we were already delivering, but cheaper," he said. "Now the difference is that we are looking at required results in terms of best practice and value for money, not just to cut costs."
Atherton said it was clear the performance management strategy was needed for the outsourced functions and robust project management for the large-scale contracts. These were weak in the original exercise and the Met is investing to improve them.
Norman Rose, director-general of the Business Services Association, which represents major outsourcing companies, said project management in the public service had improved.
"Often the client is not sure what it wants to outsource, so communication between client and supplier is jeopardised," he said. "This has been because of the lack of knowledge available to purchasers."