Francis Maude: ''This is the moment we change things''

19 January 2012

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19 January 2012 | Adam Leach

Francis Maude has told UK central government buyers he favours a more open procurement approach instead of lengthy competitive dialogue procedures.

The minister for the Cabinet Office made the announcement in a speech to 100 buyers yesterday explaining his plans for changing and speeding up the way central government purchasing is carried out. “This is the moment we change the way we do things. I’m now setting a presumption against the use of protracted competitive dialogue process, which in our view slows things up unnecessarily,” he said.

From the start of this month, all but the most complex government procurements must be completed within 120 working days, compared with the previous average of 200 days, from the point at which they are published on the OJEU website. The shorter time-span was announced in November.

The government wants buyers to carry out more in-depth research into what’s available on the market, and in particular to look for ways to innovate, before launching any procurement process. This, it hopes, will speed up the process and ultimately make it more successful.

During yesterday’s speech, Maude explained that he wanted to see procurement professionals in central government “warm up” the market and invite potential suppliers to demonstrate their products and services. He said: “Warming up the market first means procurements are faster and more straightforward because bids can summarise and price what’s already been discussed.

“From now on, before you publish the formal advert, you can invite a diverse range of prospective suppliers, including SMEs, that you think can meet your requirement to an industry boot camp.”

Earlier in the speech, the minister suggested that while procurement has not necessarily been a hot topic for past governments, it was of great importance to him. “Past governments haven’t got very excited about procurement. It wasn’t a sure-fire headline grabber. But it’s obvious to me procurement matters,” he said.

If you were in the audience at yesterday’s event and have an opinion you would like to share, please email adam.leach@supplymanagement.com


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