CCS chief exec promises change in 'commercial DNA' of public sector

Gurjit Degun
25 March 2014

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25 March 2014 | Gurjit Degun

The chief executive of the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) wants to “train an army” to become experts in the EU procurement directive to take full advantage of the latest reforms to regulations.

Speaking at the Procurex South conference in London today, Sally Collier called for everyone working in the public sector to have access to free training. The new directives were approved by MEPs in January and will lead to “more innovative and more efficient” public services across the EU.

Collier explained the new directives are a “game-changer” and a “fantastic outcome” but said that it “means absolutely nothing if my public sector colleagues and indeed the supply community don’t respond to those changes”.

“No more should we be banned and constrained by the public sector directives,” she said. “I want you to be empowered by the new directives and provide an army of trainers who can go out there to enable all of these provisions to be used to the max.” She added said the government plans to implement the new directives in seven months.

Collier, who was named chief executive of the CCS only last month, added public sector procurement in the UK is going to see more of an emphasis on commercial capability.

“We’ve got quite a low number of senior people running these large commercial activities,” she told delegates. “We need to fundamentally change the shape of the commercial landscape in central government. The best value from any deal is at the beginning when you’re shaping it and at the end when you’re managing it. So it’s a complete reversal of the commercial DNA in the public sector and that’s a long-term job. Everything that we’re doing in the CCS supports that DNA change."

Collier also said the CCS is planning to introduce commercial awareness training for all senior civil servants for the first time, not just for people working in commercial areas but also those working in policy. She also outlined what the government expects from suppliers. This included to: embrace competition, drive innovation, provide opportunities for small firms, deliver what the government is asking for, deal effectively with the CCS as one customer, make a reasonable not excessive profit, have a high level of corporate social responsibility, and to be transparent.

“There’s a lot of noise about government only being interested in reducing costs but there’s a plateau that you will hit with cost reduction,” Collier explained. “Yes, of course government has been focused on cost reduction but actually the greater opportunity is by doing things differently and government welcomes those proposals.”

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