01 February 2007 | Antony Barton
A group of MPs has attacked OGCbuying.solutions for "extraordinarily low" market penetration, a lack of customer communication and unfavourable comparison with the private sector.
Members of the Committee of Public Accounts last week criticised OGCbs during an appearance by new chief executive Alison Littley. They questioned why the organisation handles under 1 per cent of total procurement spend for the public sector.
Following the National Audit Office report Assessing the value for money of OGCbuying.solutions (News, 4 January), the MPs also asked if it was a waste of time to continue with the 75 per cent of the agency's framework agreements described as providing "very little in terms of sales and value for money".
Littley responded by saying £200 million "still goes through" this 75 per cent. On the question of penetration, she said the wider public sector had different needs from central government.
Committee member Iain Wright MP said it was "disgraceful" that almost 70 per cent of the agency's customers had never been asked for feedback on the performance of suppliers. Littley said the agency would begin this process for clients and suppliers later this year. The MP also asked why private sector firms "can sweat every single pound of turnover" but the public sector could not. Littley said it could, but the two sectors had distinct characteristics, including broader responsibility for spend in the public sector.
When chairman Edward Leigh MP asked how long her organisation would need to achieve the additional £660 million savings recommended in the NAO report, Littley said "three to five years". She added the agency was creating a three-year strategic plan to achieve this.