Positive response to Tory purchasing plans

15 October 2009

16 October 2009 | Jake Kanter

The UK Conservative party's plans to improve public procurement have been welcomed by buyers.

The Tories made a string of announcements this month concerning their plans for public purchasing if elected next year.

These included proposals to ensure central government departments act more "like businesses" by reviewing purchasing processes and rooting out waste. This would be aided, they said, by their plans to publish online all central government deals worth more than £10,000, which would unleash an "army of armchair auditors".

Shadow chancellor George Osborne argued a leaner, more efficient government will make the "greatest contribution to reducing the budget deficit".

David Padwick, who leads PricewaterhouseCoopers' public sector procurement team, said: "It is in the Tory DNA to look at housekeeping.

A future government cannot accept any inefficiency on third-party spend because it will have a direct impact on front-line services."

David Pointon, chairman of the Society of Procurement Officers in Local Government and head of procurement at Portsmouth City Council, said any move to strengthen public purchasing would be welcome. But he added a future government would not just have to review how purchases are made, but also what is bought. This could mean involving service users in decision-making.

A third procurement expert, who has experience of working on public projects, said the Conservatives had "good ideas and fine aspirations" for purchasing, but must strengthen their understanding of the profession.


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