Departments improve buying capability

1 February 2010

1 February 2010 | Jake Kanter

Three UK government departments have made progress on improving their procurement skills.

Last week the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) published the first round of the second wave of Procurement Capability Reviews, with the Home Office, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) all coming under the spotlight.

These latest reviews were based on self-assessment, unlike the first tranche, which were carried out by external experts.

Departments are ranked on nine factors encompassing leadership, skills and systems, and each area is given a “traffic light” ranking – from green, meaning “best in class”, to red, meaning “development required”.

The Home Office was either at or moving towards best in class in all areas. For example, its skills development improved from amber/red, meaning improvement is needed, to amber/green. It also reported having improved processes and tools, governance, and stakeholder and supplier confidence. The Home Office paid 99.73 per cent of invoices in 10 days.

The DCLG procurement team turned ambers on collaboration and internal impact into amber/greens. Three reds and four amber/reds were turned to ambers, showing progress on business alignment, processes and tools and governance.

Some 85.40 per cent of the DCLG’s spend went through purchasing, while 84.21 per cent of the department’s staff were happy with their dealings with procurement. It paid 89.45 per cent of bills in 10 days.

Overall, the department has transformed purchasing from a tactical to a more strategic operation, the report said.

The DWP, among the strongest performers in the first round of reviews, also improved or remained consistent in all areas. Its skills development and deployment turned from amber/red to amber, while two ambers on business alignment and sourcing and collaboration improved to amber/green.

The report said improvements were made in difficult economic conditions, including increased demand from a growing number of unemployed jobseekers.

Statistical key performance indicators showed the DWP’s 10 biggest service contracts were all delivering a good level of service and were within budget. It paid 97.10 per cent of bills in 10 days. A total of 72 per cent of stakeholders said they were satisfied with their dealings with the procurement department.

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