25 September 2009 | Jake Kanter
UK public sector procurement must improve "across the board" if the government is going to manage future spending pressures effectively, according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).
Speaking exclusively to SM, Adrian Ringrose, chair of the CBI's public services strategy board, said purchasing will play a "big part" in the government's efficiency efforts.
Although there are pockets of good practice, public sector buyers need to be "up-skilled" and there must be better communication between procurement departments, he added.
Some of the most "difficult, protracted and frustrating processes" occur when departments are carrying out a complex procurement for the first time. This could be avoided, he said, if buyers with experience of working on similar projects are drafted in to manage the process.
"We need more fluidity to put people with relevant experience into situations across boundaries," he explained.
"There are people with some great experiences that they've acquired through exposure to a process. It could be the council next door trying to reinvent that same wheel. With communication they could tap into some expertise that's local to them, rather than setting up a new team that hasn't got the experience or battle scars and will just repeat mistakes."
Ringrose added that buyers need to simplify decision-making criteria and "work out what really matters" when going to tender.