22 May 2008
Former CIPS president Peter Smith has taken up a new role at the Legal Services Commission (LSC) as a non-executive director.
The government organisation provides information, advice and legal representation for around two million people each year.
Smith will sit on its board and advise on procurement issues. He is the first purchasing professional to be taken on at board level by the LSC and will be responsible for helping to create a vibrant and competitive environment for suppliers providing legal aid to the public.
His appointment represents the LSC's desire to move towards the more commercial forms of procurement practice recommended in a 2006 review by Lord Carter (Web news, 17 July 2006). Carter suggested legal aid vendors, such as criminal or civil lawyers, should compete for work through a "best-value tendering" process, with suppliers judged on quality of service.
Smith said he was pleased to be chosen for the position and believes there will be no shortage of work ahead of him. "It was good to be recognised by the commission and I think it's a positive step in the journey of procurement to have a non-executive director in government."
He added he would support the ongoing objectives of the LSC. "I hope to help develop strong commissioning and procurement capabilities. It's very challenging because you're not buying a straightforward service and if you get something wrong, your market is full of lawyers, so there's always a risk of a legal challenge."
Smith will continue in his role as managing director of consultancy firm Procurement Excellence. He is committed to work at the LSC for 30 days a year over the next four years.