A radical suggestion for UK public sector procurement…

14 June 2012
With the UK now back in recession, and European leaders seemingly in a state of paralysis to deal with the continental crisis, radical thinking and action is required to get the economy back on track. With Steve Hilton, the prime minister’s radical-thinker-in-chief having decided to take a sabbatical, I’m going to step into his shoes with a controversial idea that I believe could boost UK business. Access to public sector contracts is often cited as one of the main barriers to procurement, and the government is keen to boost the level of pre-market engagement with suppliers. So I suggest the government publishes the contact details of every public sector purchaser. Need to find out the details of a tender? Just find the relevant buyer and pick up the phone. Want to know how you can sell to the public sector? Just drop the purchasing professional responsible an email. This should open up access, new opportunities for procurement and lead to increased engagement. I can already foresee complaints from some buyers who wouldn’t want their details divulged for fear of being bombarded by cold calls. In my view, that attitude needs to be discarded - otherwise how are new, innovative ideas and providers going to be heard? There could be other potential hurdles – staying within the rules on pre-market engagement, ensuring there are policies to prevent corruption. But these are problems that exist already, and so need to be tackled in any case.
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