Council buyers urged to 'get act together' or face 'heavy-handed' national strategy

12 October 2013

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13 October 2013 | Will Green

Local government purchasers have been warned they could be faced with a “heavy-handed national strategy” if they don’t “get their act together”.

Trish Haines, chief executive at Worcestershire County Council (WCC), told the Society of Procurement Officers in Local Government (SOPO) conference in London this week there were “cracking examples of good procurement” in local authorities but “we don’t have them everywhere”.

Haines said: “If we don’t get our act together, and we are unlucky, we could end up with a heavy-handed national strategy that tries to fix things from the top. If we do get our act together we will see a strategy where things are done from the top, but they will be the right things.”

She said categories such as construction, IT and energy were suitable for a collaborative approach, and the National Advisory Group for Local Government Procurement, which includes SOPO and the Local Government Association, was working on these areas in its National Procurement Strategy.

Haines said it had been calculated that savings of 5 to 10 per cent were possible on a combined annual ICT spend of £2.2 billion and 15 to 20 per cent on a construction spend of £10.3 billion. 

She added councils would benefit by “increasing our purchasing power by working together and acting as a single intelligent client in the market”.

Haines said contract management was important, citing an example of how WCC had increased the number of potholes being repaired each day from three to 12 by reviewing a highways management contract.

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