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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Realism on Roots

Feb 26, 2009


It is finally in the public domain, the Roots Review of English local government procurement. This is the first major review that has been undertaken since Sir Ian Byatt did a similar exercise in 2001. DCLG appears suitably excited and has trailed the report on its website under the heading 'Healey calls for greater efficiency from councils'pointing out that this report "has shown millions more can be saved through improved procurement".


As someone who has over thirty years accumulated knowledge of the UK public sector I would endorse the sentiments that the Minister is putting forward. As a former Treasury Minister, he knows the scale of what is possible if there is a will to make it happen. A small number of local councils are now putting into practice first hand the policies which are capable of delivering double digit savings in their procurement costs when taken to their logical conclusion. However, that is only a start! This won't happen to the extent the Minister wants until he stops other policy makers trying to foist a plethora of absurd social engineering initiatives onto the supply base via the Procurement teams.


Looking at the Review, one wonders who the key beneficiaries of Bill Roots' efforts are likely to be. There is certainly enough by way of recommendations to keep the usual suspects who helped compile the Review busy in writing reports, carrying out surveys and commissioning consultants. Mission accomplished from their perspective. But one needs to ask what difference this will make to the local authorities themselves? Not much in my view. It is eight years since Byatt reported. Much of what is covered in the Review should have been achieved years ago, but it hasn't for lots of reasons.


Many readers will know that taking costs out of public sector procurement is straightforward. What is needed to achieve this will feature in a new White Paper which I will be penning in the next few weeks. To reserve your copy, please e-mail info@sps-consultancy.co.uk


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