CBI 'not keen' on Whitehall self-assessment

20 October 2009

21 October 2009 | Jake Kanter

Allowing central government purchasing departments to measure their own performance "is not in the interests of improving procurement", the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said this week.

As reported, under plans leaked to SM in April, the second phase of Whitehall departments' buying reviews will be carried out in-house. This is a change from the original idea that the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) would carry out follow-up evaluations.

The Home Office, Department for Work and Pensions and the Department of Communities and Local Government are currently piloting the approach.

But the CBI argues that letting government departments evaluate their own purchasing capability would not lead to better skills or processes.

Susan Anderson, the CBI's director of public services, told SM: "We're not to keen on self-assessment. It has its place, but there does need to be, at times, the threat of the big stick. Moving entirely to self-assessment for procurement capability reviews is not in the interest of improving procurement."

OGC chief executive Nigel Smith defended the policy in a statement to SM. He said there is "a lot of misunderstanding" about the second wave of reviews.

"The reality is that the [review] process is not only robust, but is supported by rigorous quantitative measurement and backed by independent assessment. I am confident it will build on the tremendous progress delivered through the first wave of reviews."

A report published this week by the CBI said that improving public sector purchasing is crucial to cutting waste and easing pressure on government finances (Web news, 19 October).

SMoct2009

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