July 25, 2013
The UK Government’s latest attempt at developing a centralised public sector procurement department was unveiled by the Cabinet Office yesterday. The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has been set an annual budget of up to £12 billion to secure a range of goods and services including facilities management and office supplies. It has a target of saving some £1 billion each year by working across a range of government departments to take advantage of a shared purchasing function. The announcement follows last week’s report from a committee of MPs into the failings of the current procurement setup in Whitehall.
The announcement of the new department – which inevitably included the fact that this was all being done in the name of ‘hard working families’ – follows a number of notable successes for the Cabinet Office in improving the way the UK Government buys goods and services and uses property. The CCS will focus on the procurement of facilities management services, office supplies and similar goods and professional services.
Older heads will instantly spot the genealogy of this department with its unmistakeable similarities to the defunct Government Procurement Service (GPS) and before that Buying Solutions, the Buying Agency, Crown Suppliers and the Property Services Agency (PSA).
Bill Crothers, the government’s chief procurement officer, said: “Government should be an excellent customer. We spend around £45 billion on buying goods and services, and need to make the most of this extraordinary buying power. The Crown Commercial Service will ensure we act as a true single customer: buying the essentials for the whole of government in the most efficient way possible, while freeing up departments to focus their procurement expertise on what is unique to them. The result will be more savings, an increase in the quality of the commercial service to government, and a sustainable approach to our commercial procurement activity which will benefit the whole of the public sector.”
Francis Maude, minister for the Cabinet Office, said: “This government’s commercial reforms have already saved the taxpayer £3.8 billion. But hard-working families expect us to go further. The new Crown Commercial Service will ensure a step change in our commercial capability, giving government a much tighter grip on all aspects of its commercial performance, from market engagement through to contract management.”