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

When Opera turns to Farce

Jun 30, 2011

Communities and Local Government (CLG) clearly does have an uncanny knack of making itself a laughing stock when it makes any utterance about procurement. Whether this is the fault of its civil servants or headline seeking politicians is a moot point!

 The latest example of its poor judgment can be seen in the recent press release http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/1925280. First of all full marks to”procurement experts”, Opera, for getting their sales and marketing literature posted on the CLG site. And bonus marks for getting the redoubtable Mr. Pickles to make out this is ground breaking stuff and put in a supporting quote.

 But what of the content? Any “procurement expert” would not take the expenditure on three categories across three councils totaling £13.6M and project this into savings of over £10B across the whole of local government. The three categories are hardly representative. Whilst there is always cash to be saved with mobile phones and legal services, they account for less than 0.2% of a typical council’s spend. Energy is a different matter altogether. It is a traded commodity which requires specific industry knowledge and is already acquired nearly as well as in the private sector thanks to the efforts of Buying Solutions and KCC Laser. Could it be that when Eric Pickles talks about “shopping around” he has been persuaded by the “experts” that energy procurement should be done using a price comparison web site?

 The Coalition government is right about seeking significant cashable savings from local authority procurement and commissioning. But it will only come through concerted leadership and action with regular deployment  of proven commercial techniques – e-Auctions, demand management, shared category teams, removal of cost uplifts, supplier relationship development etc. Transparency, data analytics and headline grabbing rhetoric make it far less likely to happen!


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