Green slams wasteful Whitehall procurement

11 October 2010

11 October 2010 | Angeline Albert

Topshop owner Sir Philip Green has discovered a “staggering” level of wasteful spending in government in his external efficiency review, to be published today.

The government has consistently failed to make the most of its scale, buying power and credit rating according to the head of Arcadia Group, the clothing retail giant that also includes BHS and Dorothy Perkins.

Green and his team reviewed the procurement of goods and services including IT, travel, print and office supplies, and the management of the government’s property portfolio. He found poor data quality relating to where and how government spends its money.

The review team, who were given given access to departments’ resource accounts and information on government contracts and leases, also discovered a lack of a centralised approach to buying goods and services that has allowed departments to pay hugely different prices for the same items.

Green said: “Any large organisation would want to use its credit rating and scale to buy efficiently. The conclusion of this review is clear - credit rating and scale in virtually every department has not been used to make government spending efficient.”

Francis Maude, minister for the Cabinet Office, said: “The scale of the waste uncovered by Sir Philip and his team is staggering. His review shows that for too long there has been no coherent strategy to make government operate more efficiently.

“Every pound that we can take out of the cost of government is a pound we can protect on the front line.

“Our over-riding aim is to protect the quality of front-line services and to protect the jobs of dedicated public sector workers.”

Green was appointed by prime minister David Cameron on 13 August to review government efficiency. His report to Maude scrutinises government spending over the past three years.

The full details of Green’s findings and recommendations will be published later today.

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