08 January 2004 | Simon Binns
Trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt wants government purchasers to work more closely with suppliers to drive Britain's innovation agenda.
At the launch of the report Competing in the Global Economy: the Innovation Challenge, Hewitt said too much of government procurement defined the means, not the ends. She said the government's £109 billion procurement budget was enough to make suppliers and purchasers focus on innovative ways to supply things.
The report noted that the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), the main procurement advisory body, will produce best-practice guidance on how to incentivise suppliers to be innovative in their solutions (meaning new ideas and services to meet a purchaser's needs).
Robert Albright, head of operations at Royal Mail, said purchasers should include more supplier input at the scoping stage of a contract, where outcomes are well defined but the means to achieving it are not highly specific.
"The emphasis on innovation should be at the design stage, when supplier ideas can make the biggest impact," he said. "To get the best innovation from suppliers, purchasers should not over-specify at the design stage."
The report also said that the DTI and the Department of Health will trial innovative procurement in new hospital construction and other areas.
But the report did not specify how purchasers were to bring out more innovation from suppliers.Innovation at risk, page 14