Wednesday, 19 February 2014

What the GO Awards tell us about the state of UK public procurement

I've spent the last few days reading and discussing entries for this year’s National GO Excellence in Public Procurement Awards. This is a significant task given the increasing number of submissions the Awards receive each time. I've been judging for three years and I always find it very educational. 

The entries, looked at collectively, tell an interesting story of trends, what practitioners consider to be current exemplary practice (if that wasn't their view why would they enter?) and leading edge practice which would stand on its own two feet regardless of the sector.

I can see that eAuctions are delivering great results, I can see that engagement with users throughout the procurement cycle has moved from an aspiration to a practice and I can see that category management is being adopted. I can see that social benefit clauses have moved from a 'how could we?' to a reality. I can see that Procurement Teams have a seat at the table in solving public services delivery problems. I can see that good public procurement is no longer limited to the public sector but some great work is also taking place in the social landlords’ world and third sector. I can see that collaboration is becoming more ambitious, effective and participation is wider. I can see that procurement projects are becoming more audacious and delivering real benefits. I can see that sustainable procurement hasn't been sacrificed on the altar of 'savings'. The GO Awards provide an excellent showcase for the best so that others can learn, replicate and adapt.

Having said that, I can also see that there are areas where public procurement still has room to improve and could lead the way where the private sector has only dipped its toe in the water, for example, harnessing digital within procurement strategy. There is time to work hard on some new things and gain a first next year.

Now I'm looking forward to the GO Awards being presented in Birmingham on the evening of 19 March ( for details) when the good work will be shared and celebrated. I won't have to obey a oath of silence but can sing out my praise for the best.

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