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As public procurement comes under greater scrutiny than ever, a centralized structure is needed

Government procurement is under scrutiny as never before.

The National Audit Office reported on 27 February that savings have been made as a result of the present government procurement strategy and changes to procurement structures and processes.

The creation of a chief procurement officer has formed clearer lines of responsibility at the centre and the Cabinet Office now has a firmer grip on procurement spending, said the watchdog.

MPs on the Commons public administration select committee are also looking at government procurement.

At the committee’s hearing on 22 January, Colin Cram, contributing editor to the Public Leaders Network, set out his vision for a national integrated procurement organisation that would overcome the “flawed design” of existing public procurement. Cram said there needed to be a clear set of agreed objectives and a centralised procurement strategy.

Bernard Jenkin, chair of the committee, asked Cram to submit a “wiring diagram” of his proposed procurement model. That model – see diagram above – is based on combining the expertise of existing main government procurement operations with the best of the wider public sector procurement organisations.

What do you think? What is the best way to enable a coherent world class public sector procurement operation to evolve?

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