Sadly, there was a view that while there is some best practice, there is also some practice which is 20 years out of date. Now that should give both LGA and CIPS something to think about!
I also found it disappointing that the witnesses weren't probed on the lessons which could be learnt from the former Local Government Taskforce and Constructing Excellence initiatives - is it a sign of my age that I can recall the investment which was made in those improvement programmes? Anyway, unless we can learn from what worked and what didn't in the past, we are not only doing the previous investments a disservice but also at risk of trying to reinvent the wheel - the Committee really need to start probing these lessons.
So what did I think was helpful in their evidence?
- There needs to be an improvement in the writing of Briefs - that's a foundation for success;
- If councils provide better visibility and certainty of what is required then councils can expect better prices;
- The skills deficit could overcome if a peripetic 'flying squad' were set up which travelled from project to project - I think this was envisaged as a more 'hands on' service than the type formerly provided by the 4Ps;
- PQQs were not seen as a 'bad thing' but there could be standardisation.
Then we had what has become a common question (so a warning for all those yet to give evidence): "Do you favor central government mandating greater centralistion of procurement in local authorities?" , my view was that the witnesses were not in favor, however, constructively, they felt there could be:
- a mandate to provide a procurement pipeline;
- a standardised PQQ;
- a consistency in approach and standard models.
As I say I felt this was the best session so far.