Architect slams expense of public sector procurement

26 August 2011

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28 August 2011 | Adam Leach

A plea on the UK parliament’s e-petition website has called for public sector procurement to be streamlined.

Willie Watt, a partner at Dundee-based architects Nicoll Russell, has called for procurement to be “fundamentally reviewed” by parliament in partnership with the private sector. Explaining the purpose of the petition on the site, where requests with 100,000 signatures or more may prompt a House of Commons debate, Watt wrote: “Public sector procurement is often overly complex, very expensive, reduces competition, disadvantages SMEs and does not necessarily reach the correct end result nor provide value for money.”

He went on to criticise the high costs associated with commissioning public sector contracts for both the public and private sectors, writing: “For a relatively modest commission at the EU threshold (£130,000) it can cost the public sector £70,000 to assess bids and the private sector £250,000 in bid costs, that is not an effective use of money, energy and talent.” He concluded: “We need to create a simple, effective system to build a better Britain.”

The petition, which closes on the 5 August 2012, currently has 137 signatories. If it reaches 100,000 signatures it will be debated in parliament, provided it doesn’t contravene specific criteria such as, containing language, which may cause offence, or, referring to party political issues.

The e-petitions site, at the time of writing, has nine procurement related petitions, including a call to review the use of government procurement cards, which are intended to simplify the purchase of low value items such as stationery, and a call to investigate local government spending from Jaclyn Horrod, which says: “Councillors’ expenses are becoming ridiculously high. They have little control over the excessive and poor procurement of local councils and it is time we held local government to account properly.”

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