Monday, 26 November 2012

Policing police procurement: Suggested questions for Home Affairs Select Committee

Scrutiny of public procurement is a good thing but it also needs to be informed and pragmatic. I'm not aware of any impact assessment having been carried out on the required publication of local government expenditure, but it appears far from achieving its original objective cost effectively. We now have Police and Crime Commissioners, it will interesting to see how they address procurement.

However, Tuesday 27th will bring the Metropolitan Police procurement spend of £35bn under the scrutiny of the Home Affairs Select Committee.

Unless care is taken, there is a real danger of the Committee diverting its focus to what's been bought rather than was it bought well. Looking in the rear view mirror trying to understand why £500k is spent clearing horse manure may well set the pulses racing but this shouldn't be a version of scrutinising MPs expenses but something fundamentally different.

In an earlier blog I suggested questions the Home Affairs Select Committee might ask in its inquiry into the Olympics Security debacle. I suspect they missed that blog. Nevertheless, in the spirit of citizen participation (and also helping those in the Met prepare), I would suggest MPs focus on the following:

  1. How does the Met Procurement Strategy directly contribute to the Met strategy?
  2. What are the KPIs for procurement and how are they performance managed?
  3. There have been 319 contracts awarded since 2003 with a total expenditure of £3.5bn, is that correct?
  4. What is the total value of non-pay spend since that date?
  5. What is the value of the non-pay spend not covered by contract? 
  6. Of the contract covered spend, what is the amount of money spent 'off-contract' or 'maverick spend'?'
  7. What steps are taken to police maverick spend?
  8. Using the examples of £500k spent cleaning up horse manure, and £1.3m on forage/bedding, could you tell me how you benchmark the prices to satisfy yourself that tax payers are receiving best value for money?
There are many other questions which may be 'nice to know' but I suspect, with the Leveson Inquiry report, due for publication on Thursday, there may be more arresting issues.

Save, the last question, but recycle the others as you see fit with your own procurement.

I'm sure the Met will be delighted to assist with the inquiry and look forward to hearing their answers.

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