Saturday, 4 May 2013

Will UKIPs success impact on procurement?

UKIPs success in Thursday's local government elections certainly changed the English political landscape but will it make a difference to local government public procurement? Or, put a different way, if you're a local government procurement practitioner in a council where UKIP have now a major voice what changes should you anticipate, if any?

Let's first recognise that in local government politicians should shape the agenda; that's what democracy is all about. Although UKIP have not yet taken control of a council that does't mean they can't affect change.

The first area I would anticipate an impact will be if a UKIP member secures the portfolio which covers procurement - given the strategic significance of that portfolio to UKIP's strategic intent, that should be one of their core political objectives. The second impact would be if UKIP members secure a strong position on Resources Overview and Security. If either of these roles is secured expect UKIP members to reflect their manifesto - and, if my experience of local government is a reliable indicator, expect the euphoria of the Thursday's results to bring the confidence and boldness to make a quick impact, even though there will be a lack of understanding.

So what can we assume based on the UKIP Manifesto?

  1. Greater focus on cost reduction as opposed to service cuts;
  2. Resistance to the EU procurement regulations;
  3. Resistance to awarding contracts to non-UK businesses;
  4. Cynicism over the effectiveness of previous initiatives designed to support local businesses;
  5. Questions on how to make it easier for local businesses to tender for contracts;
  6. Challenge on the need to embed equalities in procurement; 
  7. Environmental procurement resisted;
  8. A resurgence in the desire to support third sector organisation;
  9. Cynicism that the procurement manger is committed to serving the citizenry as opposed to their own self-interest;
  10. Expect a need to justify existing procurement staff numbers;
I suspect many, new to local government, may have listened to the election results and thought 'so what?'. Well, if that's how you felt, you have a real problem and need to remember that in local government, political manifestos are the backdrop which should shape strategic procurement objectives. One other thing worth reflecting on is that UKIP have an electoral mandate for pursuing their manifesto objectives, while procurement professionals don't. Procurement's challenge is to provide the best professional advice on how objectives can be achieved, regardless of whether or not they agree with the objectives.

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