Spending review feared but seen as opportunity

28 September 2010

28 September 2010 | Lindsay Clark

Waiting for October’s Comprehensive Spending Review is creating a mixed bag of fear and excitement for public sector procurement professionals, according to attendees of the Procurecon Public 2010 conference in London earlier this month.

Eric Holmes, head of procurement at the Forestry Commission, suggested the mood within the profession was “a bit bewildered”.

“There is a lot coming down from government, and a lot more to come, but I don’t think we’ll really understand the impact.”

But this was not deterring immediate action, he said. “To wait for the CSR knowing that the cuts are coming is a bit of a folly.”

There was a challenge in helping your procurement team understand the opportunity presented by the cuts, said Bob Ager, head of procurement at the Central Office of Information. “You move between it being a bit scary and huge optimism, with lots of positive thoughts. I think this is something that we have been gearing up to for quite some time.”

Alasdair Fraser, head of procurement at the British Library, said demand management was key at this stage. “We have been talking to internal stakeholders  to assess future options for reduced budgets.

“I think procurement has got to see itself as the support in negotiation, and re-scoping and revising requirements.”

However, there remains a “massive amount of uncertainty” within procurement teams, he said.

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