Monday, 7 March 2016

Up on Cloud 9 with the Reform report '(Back to) the Future of public procurement'

I wearily plodded through Reform's report 'Cloud 9: The future of public procurement'. To be honest I think the highlight for me was making me think why on earth Estonia and South Korea were identified as exemplary benchmarks. I was about to compare the respective structures of devolved government and range of responsibilities and what they buy with that of the UK, and even the baseline from which their savings were achieved. Thankfully I stopped.

Sadly, the Reform report really doesn't tell us anything we didn't already know, and have known for at least 20 years.  Yes, we have heard over and over again that skills need to be improved, the benefits of embracing eProcurement, the need for better use of procurement data, a better attitude towards risk, etc, etc.. I could see nothing new there I'm afraid.

Indeed if we go back to the evidence given three years ago, by the then chief honchos of Government Procurement, to the Public Administration Select Committee (you can see an example of my posts at that time here) the mantra used in that evidence was that all these panacea were "Work in Progress".

What the Reform report doesn't tell us, which may help, is how did Estonia and South Korea bring about the change, assuming they did, which seems so illusive to the reform of UK public procurement. Do they hold individuals accountable for the bringing about change as opposed to just accepting "It's a work in progress"?

It would certainly be interesting to hear how the Reform report is viewed by the PASC and whether it acts as a catalyst to review progress since their 2013 inquiry.

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