Since the formation of the UK Government Commercial Function in 2015, we have taken enormous strides towards our vision to become ‘the best commercial function in the UK’.
In the past five years, we have marked so many incredible achievements delivered by the more than 4,000 professionals in our function, both in carrying out our core role - procuring goods and services which keep our citizens safe, building important public assets and delivering essential frontline public services - and going beyond that core remit to deliver a step change in the way the UK government ‘does’ commercial.
More recently, we have spent over a year tackling Covid-19, the biggest peacetime challenge faced by a UK government for more than a century - the GCF’s central role in delivering testing, ventilators, vaccines and free school meals has proven once and for all we are central to the delivery of excellent public services. I am incredibly proud of these achievements, and many more of the extraordinary things we have done together.
The last year has forced us to do things differently, quickly solving problems that would ordinarily take years to fix, and we have learnt lessons about where we still need to improve and I am determined that we seize this opportunity to implement them.
With this in mind, I am delighted to launch the GCF’s Strategy for 2021-2025. It recognises the outstanding progress we have made since launching, and builds on our success to bring us ever closer to realising our vision. Central to this strategy is our focus on transforming the public procurement regime, harnessing and using our data as a strategic asset for decision-making, continuing to invest in our people and expanding the same support currently provided to central government into the wider public sector. We will do this by delivering across four fronts:
Ensuring we continue to attract, accredit, develop and connect the best and most diverse commercial talent.
Digital and transparency
Utilising data as a strategic asset, allowing information to flow to where it can be used to deliver most value and build public trust through greater transparency.
How we work
Simplifying and speeding up procurement processes, removing unnecessary bureaucracy and embedding consistent application of commercial standards and best commercial practice.
Influence and scale
Leveraging our unique influence and scale to strengthen partnerships, foster healthy supply markets, develop new markets where they do not exist, unlock benefits from innovation and deliver wider social value and economic benefits through public procurement.
Delivering on our ambitions will require a collective effort across our commercial community around the UK, taking lessons from our experience, and reaching further to realise our vision. To do this, we need to continue attracting and retaining top commercial talent, putting digital at the heart of our processes, doing the hard work to keep things simple, and working collaboratively with our markets as one government to deliver financial, social and economic benefits across the UK.
This is an enormous opportunity to continue forging the GCF’s pathway to excellence and deliver a step change in the procurement landscape. I am excited to seize the moment and take another step closer to being ‘the best’.
☛ Gareth Rhys Williams is the UK government chief commercial officer