Baron Sugar (or Sir Alan before his elevation) is certainly not everyone's cup of tea! However, one thing that most people will agree on is that he does understand business and how to create wealth. His foray into the land of public procurement yesterday in a House of Lords debate not only propelled procurement into the media spotlight but also allowed him to expose just how weak UK procurement policy has been over the last 30 years. His speech can be viewed here.
Baron Sugar makes the point that the annual public procurement spend is £238B per annum. Much of this does not represent value for money as a result of poor contracting and misplaced loyalties to big suppliers. The baseline is that many people currently in public sector procurement are simply not up to the job of handling this expenditure! This is underlined by the constant protestations that it is like this because of the EU public procurement directives - in other words "outside my control governor"!
Not so - the German and French governments don't just simply roll over when it comes to contract award and protecting their interests. Sugar makes the point that a lot more could have been done to fight our corner in the Bombardier case and save 1,400 jobs in Derby. Conversations in procurement exercises are now all centred on the likelihood of challenge - one organisation recently refused to issue an OJEU notice as some suppliers would not be ready to bid and "might challenge the process". My view is the government should start calling the bluff of litigious companies - see you in Court!
So well done Baron Sugar for highlighting some home truths.