20 August 2010 | Lindsay Clark
The commercial director at the Department for Education, Ian Taylor, is set to leave his central government role at the end of September to take the helm of a regional public sector buying agency.
The former CIPS president will become director of the North Eastern Purchasing Organisation (NEPO), a collaborative buying body for 12 local authorities and four fire services in the region. NEPO aims to save more than £70 million in the North East over the next five years and to let contracts worth £500 million to regional businesses.
Taylor told SM today: “I’m sorry to leave central government procurement at such an exciting time, but don’t forget that the wider public sector spends much more than Whitehall and, if anything, has a much greater challenge to buy collaboratively.”
He said the move means he can work in his home region and hopes to “move local authority procurement into a new space with backing from the very top of each of the councils”.
Current NEPO director Andrea Tickner will remain head of procurement at Gateshead Council and Taylor said she will be a “key ally”.
The advert for the NEPO director job, says Taylor will be responsible for £1.5 billion of goods and services spend, in partnership with other regional bodies and businesses. “The director will be a key regional figure and will represent the region at national level,” it said.
Taylor has been a vocal leader in Whitehall procurement. In March he backed calls for improvements to public sector purchasing. “I’ve seen enormous progress in public sector procurement and have confidence we can innovate in response to the financial situation. Carrying on as we are will not be enough,” he said.
Taylor was promoted to commercial director of what was then the Department for Education and Skills in 2006, having established the department’s Centre for Procurement Performance to provide advice on better purchasing throughout the education sector. As president of CIPS in 2004-05, his theme for the year focused on promoting corporate responsibility.