Saturday, 15 June 2013

Taxpayers Alliance procurement assertions are flawed

Today's Times makes great play of The Taxpayers' Alliance, Bumper Book of Government Waste. Not only does public procurement get a bashing on page 4, but also in an Opinion piece from Matthew Sinclair (Chief Executive of the Taxpayer's Alliance) on page 26.

When I read that £15bn a year could be saved through better public procurement naturally I looked for the evidence. That led me to the source being cited as the Institute of Directors. But the Institute of Directors hadn't identified £15bn could be saved, their source was Colin Cram's report, Towards Tesco.

Now I have deliberately stayed clear of the procurement family spat on Towards Tesco, not least because I like and have great respect for those presenting the opposing arguments. However, we have to remember that the Towards Tesco was based on big assumptions too - it also stated there was an absence of reliable data.

I have serious concerns about the pragmatism of the centralisation argument and I'm not even sure if Colin's argument has been correctly interpreted. But we have reached a dangerous stage when a hypothesis presented by Colin, who is clearly committed to public procurement, is being misinterpreted and used by the Taxpayers' Alliance. We need to end the rhetoric and move to robust peer reviewed evidence to get to the most likely outcome. In the meantime, perhaps we should take all the other Taxpayers' Alliance assertions with a pinch of salt.

1 comment:

  1. Towards Tesco: Central procurement (but which could be done from several centres) for what should be done and managed once and to maximise specialist expertise. Below that, regional, 'place based' centres - could use LEP boundaries for instance, with some local procurement below that. No point in different parts of the public sector competing with each other in the same markets and for the attention of the same suppliers, reinventing specifications etc and with access to varying degrees of expertise and market leverage.

    Colin C