15 February 2007 | Paul Snell
The government will deliver its response to the Sustainable Procurement Task Force (SPTF) report "by the end of February", delegates at a conference in London were told.
The SPTF was set up to examine how public sector purchasing could achieve value for money while accruing benefits for society, the economy and the environment.
Sir Ian Andrews, chairman of the government's sustainable operations board, is working on the response with cabinet secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell. A spokesman for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said no date had been set, but to expect the response "within the month".
At the same event Sir Neville Simms, chairman of the SPTF, said the task force was eagerly awaiting the response, although he added pointedly: "Not quite so eagerly as time drags on."
One reason given for the delay was the government's attempts to incorporate elements of its Transforming government procurement report into the response. Simms said that the huge reorganisation of the OGC would improve sustainable government procurement.
Barry Gardiner, minister for biodiversity, said: "Procurement is central to delivering sustainable development." Andrews added: "We cannot afford to fail."
Jonathon Porritt, chairman of the sustainable development commission and SPTF member, told delegates he was encouraged by the ambitious targets the government was setting, but he warned of the need for accountability: "It is part of the responsibility as head of department."
Simms said he expected the National Audit Office to deliver a critical report on the government's failure to meet sustainable targets for its buildings later this spring.