Government chief commercial officer Bill Crothers has announced five priority areas around procurement for an incoming government.
Speaking at Procurex South in London, Crothers highlighted capability, being a better client, better supplier performance, the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) and the new EU procurement regulations.
Concerning capability, Crothers said the CCS was aiming to bring in more staff with commercial expertise and to recruit 75 new graduates by September. “We have too few deeply experienced commercial personnel,” he said.
Crothers said being a better client included being “more thoughtful”, while getting better supplier performance involved being more demanding. “You get the suppliers you deserve,” he said. “We need to be more thoughtful in how we engage with larger suppliers.”
He said the CCS had to become more attractive to public sector bodies to use and he pointed out that buyers did not spend enough time on pre-procurement work and contract management. “The more CCS gets its capability up, the more the wider public sector will come to use,” he said.
Afterwards Crothers said there was an “aspiration” that the amount of central government spend managed by the CCS would increase from £3 billion currently to £10 billion over the next five years.
Crothers told buyers that five years ago central government spent £50 billion on goods and services, and 5 per cent of that was on consultants and contractors, but there was no data or overview on where the money was spent. “It’s hard to believe but we didn’t know who our largest suppliers were,” he said.
“I think we’re in a much better position than we were five years ago, but it’s a journey and we have a ways to go.”