Purchasing chief prepares for Prison Service reforms

25 August 2004
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26 August 2004 | David Arminas

The Prison Service is to update its entire purchasing operation as part of a major reorganisation of its administration.

Vincent Godfrey, the new head of procurement, said the "Phoenix Project" is also designed to gain efficiencies in finance and human resources.

Phoenix is the service's response to chancellor Gordon Brown's spending review, which called for £21.5 billion of efficiency gains by government departments and agencies.

Savings on the £900 million-a-year procurement budget have yet to be finalised, said Godfrey, whose predecessor, John Cavell, retired in May.

Purchasing will have new category strategies, as well as new structures to include some new procurement service units based in the regions.

The service may make more of its existing national contracts mandatory. In October, MPs on the public accounts committee slammed the service for rising costs and poor take-up of national contracts (see News, 2 October 2003).

Seventy-four countrywide deals were in place by 2002 but only four were mandatory.

Before the MPs, the National Audit Office also called for aggregated deals in the service (see News, 24 April 2003).

"We are looking at having a more wide-reaching mandatory contracting structure with the regionally based procurement service units doing more regional and area-based contracts," said Godfrey.

The Prison Service has already put in place many national contracts and has gone through a phase of aggregating big spend, including everything from stationery to prisoner movements and major construction and property contracts.

"There will be a new logistics solution for everything from the way we manage our stores and inventory to transport and distribution networks that underpin it," said Godfrey.

"There are already substantial prison industries, such as building office furniture. One consideration is to look more closely at whether we can employ prisoners to do more work in-house."

The service will also instal the Oracle e-business suite, giving a complete enterprise resource planning solution for all of the prisons and their agencies.

Godfrey was previously southern regional supply chain manager at Network Rail.


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