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25 March 2011 | Angeline Albert   

BBC CPO Beverley Tew has told SM her procurement team will work with the organisation’s programme makers to ensure more work is competitively tendered.

The director of procurement and revenue management made the comments following the publication of a report by the National Audit Office which criticised the broadcaster for failing to find out the market value of a number of contracts that were not competitively tendered.

The NAO report, commissioned by the BBC Trust, examined 16 deals with a total value of £10.7 million to assess the organisation’s approach to procurement across six soaps - EastEnders, Holby City, Casualty, Doctors, Pobol y Cwm and River City.  

Of the total value of contracts reviewed by the NAO, 82 per cent in value were secured either through a competitive tendering process or via the BBC’s own, competitively tendered framework agreements. Of the 18 per cent that were not, the NAO found no evidence that BBC programme makers had sought alternative quotes.

Production teams are supported by the BBC’s central procurement team which issues procurement guidelines and operates a competitively tendered framework of suppliers.

Tew said: “For a creative organisation it is a significant achievement to know that 82 per cent of the spend sampled in a programme making area has been competitively tendered.  My procurement team are going to work with the programme making divisions to see if we can make that percentage even higher in line with the NAO recommendations.”

The NAO report said: “There may be valid reasons for awarding a contract for goods or services without a full competitive tender exercise but the BBC should make sure it is paying the best possible price by following its procurement guidelines and seeking at least two alternative quotes for contracts, even where alternative suppliers in a region are limited.”

The BBC’s programme makers were found to have not benchmarked the production costs or processes for its soaps. Direct comparisons between different production teams were hampered by the fact that the each production team reported expenditure in a different way.  

The BBC Trust said the organisation’s executive will take on board the NAO’s recommendations and “ensure that even when a full competitive tender is not appropriate, alternative quotes are sought whenever possible”.

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