A drop of the hard stuff

28 October 2010
A warm, restorative feeling greeted me in Glasgow, home of the sixth annual public sector procurement conference aka Procurex Scotland. It wasn’t the weather but the good, firm handshake of a glass of Scotch enjoyed the evening ahead of the event. Private sector firms set up exhibition stalls next to public sector organisations at the two-day conference (October 26-27) and the reassuring buzz of visitors winded their way through the SECC hall. At the lectern, we were reminded there is to be an overall cut in next year’s Scottish budget of £1.3 billion. Scotland’s deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon said faced with a national budget reduction following Whitehall’s spending review, the scope of procurement reform in the country needed to be extended to untapped areas. CIPS CEO David Noble was also present to warn delegates that the door is open for procurement professionals and the top table is listening but if buyers don’t ensure they can add value, it will be closed very quickly. Sturgeon spoke of the procurement successes achieved in Scotland (£327 million savings since 2008-09) which included national IT contracts that has delivered £24 million in efficiencies since 2008. The Scottish government’s director of procurement Alastair Merrill told me that widespread procurement reform taking place in Scotland was being achieved without a mandate. Read his blog comments here. And did you know, the Scottish government is now boasting an iPhone app detailing public sector contract opportunities, a first in the world? The news of Scotland’s budget fall, though not unexpected, was indeed a tough tipple to swallow,   but after my time at Procurex listening to buyers, somehow I think the Scots can handle it.
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