Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Local government procurement - what goes around comes around

How many of you recall the 2001 Byatt Review of local government procurement  or the subsequent 2003 National Procurement Strategy for local government. The impact assessments suggested they were effective. Of course I'm biased - I spend many years within IDeA supporting the NPS.

Now we find the Communities and Local Government Select Committee of the House of Commons have issued a call for submission of evidence on the effectiveness of Local Government Procurement.  The areas they hope to explore have a touch of deja vu echoing Byatt and the NPS which were a decade ago, yet I honestly wonder if those involved in the inquiry are aware of those antecedents.

I find it amazing that having dismantled almost the whole local government procurement support structure someone has now decided to find out what's going on. But I suppose if you think of the timescales involved the outputs could be timely for a new government.

If the Committee mean business they need to take a wider perspective, be forensic and ask:
  1. What were the lessons learnt from the implementation of the NPS?
  2. What was achieved through the NPS? (The impact assessment should be used as evidence)
  3. What happened to the library of local government procurement indicators, procurement skills programme, the Passport2Procurement eLearning tool, the sustainable procurement guidance, gateway reviews, Fitness Checks?
  4. Has local government procurement gone backwards since the implementation of the NPS?
  5. What was the impact (costs and benefits) of dismantling the procurement support provided by the IDeA, 4Ps and RCEs?
  6. What was the impact of the Small Business Friendly Concordat?
  7. Why is it that local government has been able to collaborate on purchasing since 1957 and other parts of the public sector find it so difficult?
  8. Where is local government now positioned against the milestones of the NPS?
  9. What were the lessons learnt from high profile failures, for example Wiral and Lancashire major service contracts
  10. Why has central government appeared to learn so little from local government procurement?
  11. What does world best of bred local government procurement look like?
The Inquiry provides a wonderful opportunity to learn and improve the delivery of public services - let's hope the Committee hear and don't bury their heads in the sand.

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