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23 May 2012 | Anna Scott
A UK charity representing local support and development organisations has turned down the Cabinet Office’s procurement pledge because it focuses too much on multi-million pound contracts to the detriment of small - and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the voluntary sector.
The National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA) has instead signed up to the alternative procurement pledge from the Local Government Association (LGA), which it says aims to encourage local authorities to increase efforts to communicate with service users and citizens, as well as suppliers. It is urging other voluntary organisations to follow its lead.
A total of 17 organisations, including BT Global Services and National Grid, have already signed up to the government’s procurement pledge,which commits them to posting their future procurement plans and streamlining procurement processes for potential suppliers, among other measures.
The LGA’s draft alternative pledge gives local authorities the responsibility to make procurement processes less bureaucratic and open up access to bidding for SMEs.
“We think that the pledge will be seen as a basis for building better relationships between those in government with procurement responsibility and the voluntary sector,” said Rachel Rhodes, from NAVCA’s local commissioning and procurement unit. “Like the LGA, we are concerned about the role of, and focus on, big business in the government’s pledge. It would benefit from a greater focus on SMEs and the voluntary sector.”
However, Rhodes added that the LGA pledge is “not perfect”, calling for the LGA to recognise that it’s not always appropriate to do large-scale deals, and competitive procurement processes are unnecessary and do not deliver value for money for community-based services that respond to the needs of individual citizens.
The consultation runs until 8 June, and submissions should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org