Whitehall issues first central procurement notice

7 April 2011

7 April 2011 | Lindsay Clark

The UK government has published its first contract notice for compulsory joint buying across all central departments.

The tender announcement for office supplies says it heralds a “new centralised procurement model intended to transform how government buys common goods and services”.

Although UK government departments have been able to collaborate on buying through framework agreements in the past, critics claimed that because they could not guarantee volume, suppliers were unable to offer the best prices. In this case the government said it can guarantee a minimum spend of £40 million over four years, however it estimates the final spend managed through the deal could be as much as 10 times more.

The tender notice says the new model “brings together a new governance structure, empowered by the minister for the cabinet office, to make key decisions on procurement for central government. This will be supported through centralised category management teams negotiating best value contracts for central government, based on volume bound agreements.

“The aim is that this arrangement, once awarded, will be used by all central government departments, their executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies,” the document said.

A number of councils and other public sector organisations such as the Civil Aviation Authority have also signed up to use the deal.

John Collington, the current head of procurement for the Cabinet Office’s Efficiency and Reform Group (ERG), said last year that over four years this new procurement model would be able to cut 25 per cent from the £13 billion spent on common goods and services in central government.

As reported by SM, the ERG head of procurement role is set to merged with the job of chief executive at Buying Solutions, the UK government’s purchasing agency. Interviews took place last month but the Cabinet Office is yet to name the new CPO.

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