Purchasers back public debate on how to reduce deficit

21 June 2010

21 June 2010 | Lindsay Clark

Procurement professionals and consultants support the government’s decision to consult the public on cuts to projects.

The UK government has invited the public’s views on how to reduce the deficit, expected to be £155 billion this year, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility. Chancellor George Osborne said the government would hold events during the summer to gather public opinion on spending choices before revealing their results in the autumn.

Of the procurement professionals and consultants surveyed for the latest SM100 poll, 56 per cent said that the government was right to involve the public.

“It’s the public’s money so the public are the client,” said Jamie Holman, commodity manager for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “Procurement professionals need to understand a client’s priorities to deliver effectively.”

Others backed the idea but questioned whether the public could be fully involved. “It’s a good idea but how far this is true involvement or does it just mean good communication on the topic from central government?” said Gary Moore, procurement performance manager at BAE Systems Insyte. “True involvement would mean citizens would get to vote on which budget cuts they would prefer. This is the first challenge the coalition government has in demonstrating they can craft manifesto marketing words into something more than bombast and window-dressing.”

However, 37 per cent said the public consultation was not a good idea. “Our situation is too extreme to allow for any outside involvement,” said one procurement director. “Public discussion will just delay the necessary cuts.”

Another procurement manager said: “You cannot run the country by committee. Someone needs to take the decisions. But what we should be doing is running the country the way you would run a business.”

Seven per cent of SM100 respondents were undecided on the issue.

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