23 November 2007 | Paul Snell
The OGC and Office of the Third Sector (OTS) must do more to increase charity involvement in government procurement.
This is the conclusion of an inquiry commissioned by the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (Acevo) into why third sector organisations miss out on government contracts.
The inquiry was launched in September after the government awarded 15 "pathways to work" contracts to five private sector firms, but only one third sector organisation (Web news, 18 September).
The report said the OGC and OTS needed to explain to government buyers the flexibility in EU procurement rules to increase charity involvement in public services. Examples of framework agreements and local contracts should be promoted.
It added some experienced and skilled third sector suppliers had been put off from bidding by the procurement approach used.
Peter Kyle, director of strategy and enterprise at Acevo, said: "The disappointment for the sector over the first round of pathways to work contracting highlights how much work still needs to be done if rhetoric is to become reality. It is essential the conclusions of this report are built upon to form a constructive basis for third sector engagement in public services. We at Acevo will now set to work on developing policy solutions to the challenges outlined in the report."
Peter Hain, secretary of state for work and pensions, said in response: "The inquiry could find no major faults in the procurement process. Its findings will be taken into consideration for future welfare-to-work contracts, because I am interested in what works best and providing value for money for taxpayers."