04 March 2004 | David Arminas
Labour's review of government efficiency is sending conflicting signals to local council purchasers.
Sir Peter Gershon's review calls for a cut in the number of purchasing organisations from upwards of 400, including consortia, to as few as four super-agencies around England.
But last week, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) announced the lead authorities for each of its nine new regional centres of excellence in procurement.
Lead authorities will work with other councils to set out e-procurement activities, framework contracts and establish collaborative procurement.
Ken May, director of the Eastern Shires Purchasing Organisation, told SM that because it has members in three of these regions, there could be more red tape for its members.
"I could be left with trying to work with three or more, not fewer, agencies."
Malcolm Rosier, head of marketing at procurement consultancy Best Value Procurement, said the review "is a distinct attempt at centralisation, which is odd given the ODPM's regional centres initiative".
Roy Ayliffe, director of professional practice at CIPS, said give and take will be needed to make the recommendations work.