Francis Maude calls for culture change in public sector

CIPS 29 November 2011

Best practice injection needed in public sector procurement

During the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) on the role of The Head of the Civil Service, the UK Government's Francis Maude comments on public sector procurement.

In summary, Maude says that procurement failings are largely a 'cultural thing' and the process needs to focus on the outcomes not the inputs so suppliers can become more innovative.

In addition:

  • Work programme tendered and let a model of how things should be done.
  • We have a less competitive supplier base and will militate against UK based suppliers
  • On EU gold plating – we could do things much better – France and Germany doing things much better. There is a myth about talking to suppliers is wrong – this is exactly the thing we should be doing
  • Pushing the EU Commission to streamline directives. Also urging change is to allow, maybe for a limited period, public service mutuals to be formed and negotiate to provide a service. After a set number of years the service would then have to be competed
  • Could see a significant growth in employee led organisations and can see huge growth already
  • Charles Elphickie on Intellect and IT procurement - called IT procurement a cartel
  • Maude said that if Intellect was here they’d say most of their members are SMEs. Agreed that more contracts need to go to SMEs
  • Looking at some of the functions of system integrators should be kept in-house. Need much more of that capability
  • No department can take on consultant for a procurement needs to be approved by Maude
  • On the virtual commissioning academy – it does not exist but at present it is “no more than a twinkle in my eye” but we’re opening a leadership academy with a business school because we’re fed up of large projects being managed badly. This needs to be led by practitioners
  • National school of Government an outdated model
  • On outsourced services – doesn’t matter if they’re outsourced or not. GPs are contractors
  • I think the binary choices are behind us plus some new models of delivery such as charities providing services. Nor do I exclude outsourced contracts being brought in-house e.g. CIO

David Noble CEO of CIPS says “We are beginning to see signs of the pockets of good practice within the public sector discussed at the highest level and becoming more mainstream.  Myths and inertia are being broken down as public sector procurement professionals are being encouraged to engage more with suppliers and encourage innovation.  The blinkers must be removed as the path is being cleared for a more innovative way of working. From the CIPS perspective, the focus on capability improvement and the role of charities/SMEs is all very positive as is the intent to commercialise commissioning." 

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