Smith calls for tougher line

13 September 2010

14 September 2010 | Paul Snell

The public sector must be more “aggressive” in its attempt to transform procurement if it is to meet the future challenges it faces, says the former chief executive of the Office of Government Commerce (OGC).

Speaking to SM before stepping down from his role, Nigel Smith said there must be a more effective way of sharing the experience that exists within government purchasing to meet the tough targets expected in next month’s Comprehensive Spending Review.
“Procurement is not going to be immune from budget cuts, but procurement will be even more important, so how do you square that circle?” he said. “The only way is to follow in a much more aggressive way the sorts of things we have been trying to do over the past three years.”
He added: “So should we actually push forward with shared services on the commodities which are not strategic to departments to get more efficient use of capability? The answer is absolutely yes.
“Can you get the capability to meet the need by having this fragmentation of departments? The answer is no. To have a situation where you’ve got people who have been through complex business process procurements, but that experience is not then available to the rest of government, seems to me a nonsense, and that must change.”
Smith also said that although mandatory collaborative procurement will be important, it will not always be appropriate.
“The centre must do things where it occupies a unique position, but only where it occupies a unique position. It must not try and duplicate what is best done within departments. You need to be successful at that or departments are going to see they are having things done to them, not as support for them.”

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