09 March 2009 | Jake Kanter
Senior government officials should speak to potential suppliers for complex projects before starting the procurement process, according to the latest guidance from the OGC.
In its report, A Formula for Success, the OGC said early engagement reduces the chances of later problems in major public projects, such as IT programmes.
The report said stakeholders should assess and begin discussions with potential vendors to help both parties identify and mitigate problems that might occur during the contracting process.
Rushing to start a purchase can lead to delays and might deter suppliers from bidding for the work, the OGC said.
"A procurement that is not well prepared will be less attractive than one with a high certainty of timely completion."
The guidance also recommended purchasing processes should be used as an opportunity to agree clear joint objectives that give suppliers the confidence to deliver programmes successfully. In addition, contracts should be agreed and managed carefully to protect public authorities against cost overruns or delays.
OGC chief executive Nigel Smith hoped the guidance would "safeguard" the successful delivery of complex projects.
"It is vital those working in public sector procurement get it right from project inception and ensure risks are mitigated," he said.
The publication of the guidance coincides with a report by the Public Accounts Committee criticising the MoD's procurement of eight Chinook helicopters. Software problems have rendered the aircraft inactive for the past eight years, at a cost of £422 million.
Committee chairman Edward Leigh said "appalling" decision-making behind the purchase left troops in Afghanistan short of helicopters and put their lives in greater danger.