We Just Don’t Know How Good Public Procurement in the UK Really Is

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Spend Matters UK/Europe founder and ex-MD, Peter Smith, revisits with a commentary on public sector procurement. 

How effective is public sector procurement in the UK? That’s a really hard question to answer for a number of reasons. So much of what happens is invisible from the outside, and of course if you are sitting outside, you just get a sanitised view of what really is happening.

The Government Commercial Function (GCF) and Organisation (GCO) have certainly taken some positive steps in terms of professionalisation of the function in the past couple of years under Gareth Rhys Williams. Recent work on the Outsourcing Playbook, training on contract management and an updated self-assessment process for procurement organisations all look pretty impressive too.

But there are often two sides to the story. The handling of the Carillion collapse has been presented as a positive, in that services continued in most cases without too much trouble – but should government as the firm’s biggest client have “allowed” it to happen at all? And the consequences have not been trivial – the Royal Liverpool hospital is late and may well go over budget by £100 million or more.

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Source: Spen Matters