New procurement body to subsume Buying Solutions

3 June 2011

3 June 2011 | Lindsay Clark

The UK government is creating a central procurement body with a mandate to buy common goods and services, train staff and help departments with specialised purchases.

Government CPO John Collington will head the organisation, which will be called ‘Government Procurement’ and subsume the role of Buying Solutions, although some staff will lose their jobs. The number of employees will reduce from about 390 to 272 and 30 central government buyers will join.

The central group will manage categories of common goods and services across government to save £3 billion annually by the end of March 2013 on £13 billion of addressable spend. They will also improve the buying of £40 billion “strategic and operational spend”, such as armed forces equipment.

There are plans to use some surplus from the Buying Solutions trading fund to help create a training programme. The government is in discussions with CIPS on this.

“[We are] determined to use this opportunity to improve the capability of all civil servants involved in procurement,” Collington said. Central government tenders for office supplies and business travel have already been published.

The new body will have offices in Liverpool and Norwich, where Buying Solutions has bases, and have a unit in London. It is set to use procurement facilities belonging to departments, such as the Home Office’s Newport centre, the Department for Work and Pensions’ office in Norcross and HM Revenue & Customs’ building in Salford.

Collington said there would be no extravagance with the launch of a central procurement body. “We will be reusing the existing locations, we will not be looking for a massive rebranding exercise, and the name of Buying Solutions will change once we move location,” he said. “The reason why we‘ve come up with a bland name such as Government Procurement is because it does what it says on the tin.”

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