01 February 2007 | Antony Barton
Hundreds of government buyers face an uncertain future, following the announcement that the OGC will become "a smaller, more focused, higher calibre organisation".
After reports that the 410-strong department will halve its workforce by 2011, the OGC deputy chief executive Peter Fanning told SM that while it could not rule out redundancies, it would do its best to avoid them.
Described as the "first major reshaping of government procurement since the OGC was set up," the Treasury will take over the OGC's responsibility for monitoring efficiency. A Major Projects Review Group will be created to ensure the most complex public sector projects are subject to an enhanced Gateway review process.
These plans are outlined in the Transforming government procurement report, released by the Treasury last week, following a review of the OGC last year.
The report also states that procurement capacity will be increased in government departments and the chief executive of the OGC will lead the relaunched Government Procurement Service.
Fanning said the OGC would try to avoid compulsory redundancies but could not entirely dismiss the possibility. "It would be improper of management to say there will be none," he said. "We will do our best to redeploy people. The organisation will be smaller because we will stop doing things that are not core to our new mission."
The report says the government will be "giving the OGC strong powers to drive these improvements", with the ability to "ensure remedial action is taken where necessary".
Speaking at last week's Best Value in Public Sector Procurement conference, Fanning said the changes would give the OGC "sharper focus on procurement in government and sharper teeth".
He told SM these powers would largely concern monitoring spend by departments: "We have authority to carry out these changes. We have the backing of cabinet ministers. What more do we need?
"The challenge isn't what to do if they don't behave, it's how to be sure they do. It's making sure we have the information to make the judgments that need to be made."