Clarification needed over procurement terminology

17 June 2011

17 June 2011 | Lindsay Clark

When the UK government speaks about commissioning, it is really talking about strategic procurement, according to CIPS CEO David Noble.

Speaking at The Public Procurement Show in London this week, Noble - who sits on the government’s Procurement Executive Board - said there was a need for clarification over the terminology, particularly at a time when government procurement was in the limelight.

“Commissioning is, I believe, strategic procurement, most governments in the world see it that way,” said Noble. “There's always more work to do and more improvements to make but there is huge support from the Cabinet Office to ensure commissioning gains the skills sets of strategic procurement.”

Commissioning has become a popular term in the public sector as the government seeks to contract out more of its core services, such as social care. But the risks involved have been underlined by the recent financial concerns surrounding care home provider Southern Cross.

Noble said the government is making great strides to improve procurement skills and to manage risk in contracting out services. “Public sector procurement staff and commissioners may find purchasing difficult and CIPS is here to help with new products and services.”

Noble also highlighted stakeholder management as an area where government buying could be helped. “Be aware of the influence you’re having on your stakeholders. Make sure they understand where you’re coming fromthat is fundamental to me in enhancing the profession,” he said.

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