Big differences in how English museums approach procurement

29 March 2015

Museums in England differ in how they operate formal procurement policies, with only some favouring local suppliers.

A study by the Arts Council England estimated that the country’s estimated 2,720 museums contribute £1.45 billion to the national economy, generating £3 of income for each £1 of public sector grant.

In six case studies the study found the lack of specific policies on local sourcing in some organisations was because they sought best value for money regardless of suppliers’ location, and because legislation requires public bodies not to discriminate against other EU suppliers.

However, environmental and sustainability principles could have an indirect impact on local sourcing, the research found. The case studies also found not all museums analyse data on where their suppliers are located.

According to the research, Beamish Museum in County Durham estimated approximately 70 per cent of its spend is local. It spent £2.35 million on goods and services in the financial year 2012-13.

However, the Imperial War Museum in London has a procurement policy that complies with EU directives and government guidance aimed at achieving best value from contracts. It selects the most economically advantageous offer and does not favour suppliers from any particular location.

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