HMRC buyers shielded from Whitehall job losses

18 March 2011

18 March 2011 | Lindsay Clark

Procurement staff at HMRevenue & Customs (HMRC) have been offered assurances that they will escape the worst of central government job cuts.

Speaking to SM at this week’s Public Sector Efficiency Expo 2011, HMRC commercial director David Thomas said his procurement team could expect to avoid job losses because the headcount had already been cut by around 40 per cent since he joined in 2006.

“I knew what a £2 billion spend organisation should look like. I knew what I had got, and when you put the technology in, it should look like this in terms of numbers – and we’re not far off that now. We made the cuts very early…. we’re not looking to cut into the core of the procurement teams any more,” said Thomas.

Furthermore, the HMRC commercial team is taking on management of three of the nine centrally managed Whitehall categories for the Cabinet Office’s Efficiency and Reform Group. “We’re very actively supporting the centralised commodity procurement process,” Thomas said. “Of the nine streams that [ERG head of procurement] John Collington has established, I am personally leading on three.”

These are print services, office supplies, and learning and development.

“We’re not only doing our own bit, we’re also using our skills to help that programme as well,” added Thomas.

Other Whitehall procurement teams, however, will face job losses.

David Smith, commercial director at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), told SM that his business plan included a reduction. “There will be very few parts of the corporate centre in any part of the public sector that will be immune…and the procurement function needs to continue to raise its game to make its contribution.”

He said the DWP was still working through plans for cuts to the procurement team but said it would be between 25 and 40 per cent.

Andrew Croston, head of procurement and commercial at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said he did not expect there to be any redundancies from his core team, although there may be a reduction in headcount from some of the peripheral Defra buying teams, in some cases as a result of halting recruitment.

He said Defra had 15 purchasing organisations, which serve 40 to 50 organisations. In future this work will be split across two procurement teams, which will become centres of excellence, he said.

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