21 June 2006 | Paul Snell
Public-sector buyers may be the "big spender" when collaborating on purchasing with other departments, but they must avoid being the "big brother".
This was the view of David Greensmith, procurement policy manager at the Department for Work and Pensions, speaking to delegates at the "Procurement Solutions for the Public Sector" conference in London this week.
"Many small departments do not feel able to assert themselves," he said. "Bigger departments need to take better account of their wishes and needs."
He said the key to a successful partnership was to "set out the stall at the start of how the project is going to run, and how the smaller department fits into that".
He also advised delegates to "retain flexibility" in deals, so that the collaboration process could adapt to the needs of each department. However, he said there should be a single individual responsible for taking charge of the project and providing accountability for it.
Greensmith also warned delegates they must learn if their market could handle the huge spending power that collaborative buying might wield.
"If you say, 'We're big, we're hard, we're big spenders', the market will come running, but at a cost," he said. These problems could include not having enough suppliers, or pricing your current suppliers out of the market.