Capability review shake-up

27 March 2009

27 March 2009 | Martha McKenzie-Minifie

Procurement Capability Reviews (PCRs) are set to undergo a radical overhaul - with departments asked to evaluate themselves, SM has learned.

The OGC is currently responsible for the PCRs - some of which have exposed major problems with procurement practices - and involve a team of external experts investigating individual government departments.

In an internal memo to staff, OGC executive director Jonathan Simcock wrote that the climate in which the PCRs operated was changing.

He added that the Civil Service Steering Board had considered the number of capability reviews under way and decided that Whitehall should move away from the interview-based approach "and adopt a self-evaluation process".

The memo continued: "This, of course, has major implications for our proposals for the next wave of PCR reviews."

The first PCRs were announced in January 2007 in the Treasury report Transforming Government Procurement as part of what then chief executive John Oughton said was "the first major re-shaping of the procurement agenda since the OGC was established".

The final tranche of six remaining PCRs from the first wave were due to be published on 31 March.

A Whitehall procurement professional, who did not want to be named, told SM he was disappointed by the planned move to self-assessment less than three years since the programme was announced. He said making improvements in sourcing could take organisations a decade or more and some departments did not have the specialist knowledge to critically assess their buying behaviour.

But consultant Meryl Bushell said self-assessment was not necessarily a step backwards.

She said departments should concentrate on implementing actions from the last reviews before embarking on new ones.

An OGC spokesman said the organisation would still have a role to play in improving capability. "Departments will still require support from OGC in delivering and measuring capability improvements and the capability agenda is still a central OGC priority."

He said the OGC was currently developing the way forward but would not disclose further details of the changes, when they would take place, or any effect on dedicated procurement capability review staff at the organisation.

SMmar2009

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