About the Author

Ken Cole
SPS Consultancy

Ken Cole has worked in senior positions in both the public and private sectors and was one of the founding Directors of SPS in 2001. He recently completed a three year secondment as Director of the London Centre of Excellence. Ken has thrilled many public and private audiences with his incisive analysis, robust delivery and his belief in 'telling it as it is'. His blog is a regular commentary of the improvement and efficiency agenda.

Make sure you pay a frequent visit to find out Ken's latest thoughts on the workings of government, the latest policy initiatives and much more...

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Moving into Number 10

Apr 28, 2010

It is election time in case you hadn’t noticed and an ideal time to check out what the great thinkers in the world of UK politics are planning to do on procurement. Given the scale of public procurement and the need to find cashable savings in order to reduce the budget deficit, you have to be optimistic that there would be a mention somewhere.

First up Labour – the party of Government for the last 13 years. Nothing in the manifesto, nothing on the website, but a mention in the Labour Party Policy Forum in Jan 2008:

Public procurement will also be used to promote the equalities and apprenticeships agendas as well as tackling climate change”

Oh well, more of the same from them then.

Now to the Conservatives - the Government in waiting according to the pundits. Nothing in the manifesto, but a sort of mention in relation to ICT procurement on the website from recommendations made to George Osborne in Jan 2009:

“The Government could save at least £600 million per year if it adopted a more effective open IT procurement process. The open source savings would come not just from reduced licensing costs, but importantly by freeing government bodies from long-term, monopoly supply situations”

Nice words and great sentiments, but I would not be wagering more than £1 that this policy will ever see the light of day – especially once the Whitehall machine and the big ICT outsourcers have had a go. But a bonus bit on the Where We Stand section:

“Extend government procurement to small and medium-sized businesses by cutting administrative requirements, with the aim of seeing 25 per cent of government contracts go to SMEs”

They have obviously been avid readers of the Glover Report. What was that they were saying about fewer targets to meet?

Finally, to the Liberal Democrats and that nice Nick Clegg (not to be confused with Nick Griffin) – who is not one of the other two so clearly must have the keys to Number 10. Nothing in the manifesto, but again like the Conservatives a sort of mention on the website from their National Environment group:

“We will use government procurement so that the purchasing power of governmentbuyers is used systematically to favour green choices”

While it would be absurd to think that procurement would get a dedicated mention – something more cerebral than this surely cannot be unreasonable to expect given the forthcoming financial crisis is now only weeks away. Have a laugh at the cartoon published with acknowledgements to Garland in the Daily Telegraph on 28 April 2010. It says it all really.


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