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29 May 2012 | Kamalpreet Badasha
The Home Office has saved £75 million through improved procurement practices, according to a Home Affairs Committee's report published today.
But MPs have raised “serious concerns” about purchasing, with fears that greater private sector involvement in work is being taken without clarity over scope.
A report, The Work of the Permanent Secretary (April to December 2011), detailed how acting on recommendations, which included extending the national framework for police procurement, helped make the savings in the first three quarters of the 2011-12 financial year.
Committee chairman and Labour MP Keith Vaz said in a statement: “If [the Home Office] is to find £1.8 billion savings it will have to look to new and innovative ways of service delivery through procurement.”
But he also warned of the potential risks of greater private sector involvement: “It is an area where forces should tread very carefully as some police functions simply cannot be outsourced.”
The Committee has called on the Home Office to postpone spending £5 million on exploring a joint procurement exercise for Surrey and West Midlands Police. It recommends police and crime commissioners be appointed first.
There were also worries about the e-Borders programme, which began in 2003 and aims to allow the electronic tracking of almost all non-EU nationals arriving in the UK. New contracts have been made with Serco and IBM. But the Committee is concerned that it will not be fully operational in time for the London Olympics this summer.
“The e-Borders programme which has resulted in the loss of millions of pounds of taxpayers' money highlights the need for procurement to be carried out correctly and to include clear goals for private sector companies,” said Vaz.