Government Procurement Plans

11 01 2010

Today, Liam Byrne,Secretary to the Treasury,  has announced an action plan setting out how the Government will harness the £220 billion spent by the public on third party goods and services to support growth and economic recovery.

The (catchy) Policy Through Procurement Action Plan

Published by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), the 2009 Plan (announced at the Pre-Budget Review) emphasises three principles:

  • Supporting small and medium-sized enterprises;
  • Encouraging apprenticeships, training and youth employment;
  • Reducing carbon emissions.

95% of contracts are won by UK businesses.

The Rub

This seems a sensible move to ensure that UK government spend supports those hardest hit by the recession: small business and people without skills or qualifications. However, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

In order to supply the government, a company must be registered on an approved supplier list. These vary from sector to sector. I can tell you from personal experience that this is a long, laborious process, which contains arbitrary limits to determine which contracts a supplier can bid for.

The Plan expects to help deliver its objectives by encouraging suppliers to sign up to its voluntary Supplier Charter, but doesn’t make it any easier to become a supplier! A couple of smart PR moves to meet the objectives – a few apprentices and a Toyota Prius – and government procurement will continue much as before.

There is an Access to All programme, which contains the wonderfully encouraging line:

“The Government’s policy on SMEs is to encourage and support these organisations to compete for public sector contracts where this is consistent with value for money policy the UK regulations, EU Treaty principles and EU procurement directives.”

So, small business is welcome on the rare occasions that it treads on literally no one else’s feet?

There is an even more patronising document covered in high-resolution pictures of fish, presumably as some small-fish-big-pond metaphor, which contains some innovative advice for public procurement departments:

“Use your website (see page 10). It is an ideal way of making information available at low cost and
consider including a ‘Selling to…’ guide giving potential suppliers the information they need to
bid effectively.”

With this kind of cutting-edge advice, how can government fail to light the fire of innovation?



One response

11 01 2010
Government Procurement Plans : Bizzness Blog

[…] Government Procurement Plans […]

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