13 February 2009 | Paul Snell
Exchequer secretary to the Treasury and 'procurement minister' Angela Eagle has called on public sector buyers to write to her or their department head if they have ideas to improve purchasing efficiency.
Speaking at a public sector procurement conference in London this week, Eagle told delegates: "It's up to all of you to ensure that best practice is being followed in your departments. Think about how things might be done differently and more effectively and more efficiently."
"If you have ideas about how things can be improved, you can contact your permanent secretary. Write to me or contact the OGC - don't feel shy about coming forward.
"New approaches need to be welcomed. We need two-way feedback. We don't want a hierarchy, where you are isolated in a corner doing something somebody takes for granted, where the risks of getting it wrong are humiliating your permanent secretary in front of the National Audit Office and not doing the best possible for your career."
She said she wanted the culture to change to become one that "rewards, welcomes and recognises" the innovation and creativity buyers can bring.
Collaborative procurement exercises had identified £300 million of savings this year on professional services, she added, and there were potential further savings "worth hundreds of millions" on energy bills, where prices vary by 50 per cent between departments. And more savings could be made in desktop computer support where the cost ranges by 500 per cent.
The results of the government's operational efficiency review into procurement, led by Invensys chairman Martin Jay, will be published with the Budget later this year. Eagle also confirmed the majority of recommendations made in the Glover review into SME contracting opportunities (News, 11 December 2008) would be implemented by the end of the year.