21 July 2005 | Rebecca Ellinor
Procurement will play a key part in the organisation of the 2012 London Olympics, following the announcement last week that a purchasing directorate will be set up for the games.
The London Development Agency (LDA), which will collaborate on planning for the event, said a procurement directorate would be set up either as part of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) or as an independent agency.
In addition, an LDA spokeswoman confirmed that it will shortly start recruiting procurement consultants in areas such as construction and infrastructure.
Peter Smith, former CIPS president and director of Procurement Excellence, said: "The key is to get good people who can balance the need for doing procurement properly with the need to think creatively, commercially and within deadlines."
Graham Watts, chief executive of the Construction Industry Council, echoed the sentiment: "We've got to get expert clients in the procurement team."
The LDA said initial work will focus on construction projects. Frank Griffiths, head of construction procurement consultancy Frank Griffiths Associates, said it would need someone of the stature of construction procurement expert Sir Michael Latham to chair it and make sure proper purchasing practices were followed.
"They need a champion, a leader who has the authority and an understanding of the issues," he said.
The ODA will be created through the London Olympics Bill, which had its first reading in the House of Commons last week. The bill will also regulate commercial aspects of the games.
The ODA will be accountable for the public money spent on getting venues and infrastructure ready on time and to budget.
The LDA added that to maximise the ability of local companies to compete and win contracts to construct, supply and service the games, it will be setting up an Olympic Business Intelligence Unit.
This will provide companies in the area with notice of potential contract opportunities.
The LDA added that later this month it will announce the tendering shortlist for designers of the Olympic park and its infrastructure. The agency hopes to announce the shortlist for the designer of the VeloPark cycling arena in August.
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