Whitehall's first joint print deal is awarded

14 July 2011


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14 July 2011 | Angeline Albert

The UK government’s first centralised purchasing agreement is expected to save £21 million on Whitehall’s printing costs.

The HM Revenue and Customs' (HMRC) Print Vendor Partner contract is potentially worth £150-250 million  over a four year period and has been awarded to Williams Lea, with effect from 1 July.

The four-year joint purchasing deal, agreed for all government departments, replaces 140 Whitehall contracts with a single arrangement to enable them to make the most of their collective buying power. Williams Lea is the central manager to the second-tier supply chain.

As one of nine spend categories earmarked by the government for centralised purchasing, print buying became the first to have a joint buying contract awarded.

Government departments are selected based on their purchasing expertise to lead on managing centralised procurement agreements for specific categories of spend, but a spokesman for the Cabinet Office said this “healthy competition to be first” was won by the HMRC. Dave Thomas, HMRC commercial director said: “My team is extremely pleased to be managing the contract on behalf of government. This model will now be available across government six months ahead of schedule and we look forward to meeting the challenge of onboarding.”

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude told a gathering of 200 senior government procurement officials yesterday that they had “made a good start” with savings but there was a lot more to do. “The most radical changes to procurement are now under way. The days when there was no strategy and no coherence to the way the government bought goods and services are well and truly at an end. Collectively we have made a good start with the savings we have already delivered – but it is only the beginning. As procurement professionals, this is your time. Never have you had such a high profile or expectations placed upon you. There is a great deal to do when you leave here today,” he said.

John Collington, the government’s chief procurement officer, said: “Only last month we announced the formation of Government Procurement. This print contract is the first of a number of central deals we are putting in place over the coming year.”

The contract includes end-to-end delivery of print and associated services, including paper and envelopes. It excludes copier paper, office supplies and specialist strategic print such as passports. 

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