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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The Tide is Turning

Feb 19, 2010

 

I have certainly broken the rules of blog etiquette by not keeping this column up-to-date and current. Although there are no excuses for this, my defence is that I have been exceptionally busy in the last few months. It is almost the case that there is a waiting list of clients and projects, almost exclusively from the public sector.

The reason for this is simple. The tsunami of expenditure reductions, often reaching over 20% of current budget levels is rapidly approaching. Levels such as this cannot be met by statistical contortions and a healthy dose of smoke and mirrors. They are real and scary and will not be avoided whichever useless bunch of politicians occupies No.10 after the May General Election.

The magnitude of savings that the public sector is looking at will mean real cuts in service levels. However, this is the opportunity for a strong procurement function to deliver its share towards the budget reduction, by way of pruning the procurement spend levels by at least 10% over the next two financial years. The required level of cashable savings, in my view, could realistically be achieved by most public sector bodies. What it needs though is for procurement specialists to act as commercial managers and not behave like glorified administrators hiding behind the stifling EU Public Procurement Directives or creating yet another framework contract with no guaranteed volumes of business.

The phone in our own offices is constantly ringing because a growing number of public sector bodies have already made that decision. “Let’s talk” are now the watch words rather than “that is not possible here”.

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