25 July 2008 | Paul Snell
The prison service has made "significant progress" in procurement, according to a report by the National Audit Office (NAO).
When the spending watchdog examined the function in 2003, it said purchasing was "fragmented and costly to deliver", but it has improved so dramatically that it was suggested by the NAO as the model for the Ministry of Justice's new procurement function, to control £2.5 billion of spend a year.
The Prison Service spends around £449 million a year. It has made savings of £83 million between 2003 and 2007, and estimated a further £37.5 million savings last year. Improvements have included centralising the procurement team and the introduction of a structured buying model. It has also increased the amount of spend under its control, from 38 per cent in 2001 to 72 per cent now.
Vincent Godfrey, head of procurement at the Prison Service, told SM: "I'm pleased the NAO has recognised our achievements. Having been asked to develop the procurement strategy for the wider Ministry of Justice, this report also lends some credibility to both my team and I which is obviously useful."
The NAO recommended the team look at low-cost sourcing to buy uniforms, and to review supplier contracts to ensure they allow for continuous improvement.