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...

Recent Blog Posts...

Hijacking Procurement
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Mar 25, 2013
Mr Pickles uses the 'P word'.
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Mar 07, 2013
Haringey Leads London
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Feb 14, 2013
Time to rethink Supplier Evaluation
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Aug 30, 2012
Smoke and Mirrors in Whitehall!
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Jul 12, 2012
Collaboration at its best
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May 25, 2012
Latest Procurement Card Scare
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Mar 21, 2012
iESE - a model for a Big Society?
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Mar 06, 2012
I wandered lonely as a Cloud
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Feb 03, 2012

Raising the Energy Stakes

Aug 04, 2008

"OGC: buyers not adding value" reads the heading on page 7 of the latest issue of Supply Management magazine. At a recent conference on Energy, Nigel Smith, OGC CEO, is reported to have cited the fact that 250 OJEU notices had been issued for energy suppliers over the last two years. His colleague also pointed out that only 30% of electricity and gas supplies were purchased through best practice procurement.

As someone who has been involved directly with the modernisation of energy procurement over the last three years, I can say unequivocally that Mr Smith and his OGC colleagues are spot on with their analysis of the symptoms. The public sector is nowhere as good as the best of the private sector. When you consider that the UK public sector spent £3.5 billion on energy in 2006/7 alone there is massive room for improvement. 

However, where I would beg to differ is on the likely causes. Is it really the buyers holding back improvement? A lot of evidence suggests that energy is often purchased in organisations by junior staff with little or no training, often with risk averse lawyers in tow insisting that buying energy is no different to buying office supplies.

Of course, as most readers of this blog will know energy is a commodity, like gold and oil and is bought on international markets by specialised traders. There is a wealth of knowledge and information now available to help public sector bodies understand this and make the changes that are long overdue. The London Energy Project led by Michael Wood and his Haringey team has been leading the way since 2005* on modernising Energy procurement. They are now moving into benefits realisation mode and will be making some encouraging announcements in the coming weeks.

As with so much on the efficiency agenda, there is still a long way to go. This is a battle of hearts and minds; cultural change in its rawest form. If you haven't already read up on the possibilities in the energy market, then may I suggest the first port of call should be to http://www.lcpe.gov.uk/Energy/Default.asp ?

* The Procurement Agency for Essex also kicked off a project at the same time

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