June 5, 2013
The 1980s, when Margaret Thatcher was prime minister, is often portrayed as a time of strife and austerity. The reality was often different.
In 1987, the second annual conference of the Central Unit on Purchasing took place. The CUP, as it was known, was set up in 1985 to act as a catalyst to improve government procurement. It was part of HM Treasury. The Efficiency and Reform Group in the Cabinet Office has ultimately absorbed its responsibilities. (more…)
April 17, 2013
Margaret Thatcher’s premiership arguably heralded the biggest changes in the public sector since the second world war. But with the benefit of a vantage point in the Cabinet Office and then
the Treasury for eight of the 11 years of her government, my perception is that the initiatives and reforms were practical responses to issues that had to be tackled.
What Baroness Thatcher did was create the environment for innovation and initiative – doing what had hitherto been unthinkable. This was leadership. Only towards the end of her premiership – and probably largely afterwards, did people rationalise these initiatives into a philosophy called ‘Thatcherism’. (more…)
April 2, 2013
It is eight years ago since I posed the question “If Tesco managed its procurement like the UK public sector, would it still be in business?”
A result of that was Towards Tesco, the report I produced for the Institute of Directors, which argued for: (more…)
February 5, 2013
My appearance, with Jon Hughes of Future Purchasing, before the Public Administration Select Committee in January appears to have caused some controversy.
I have been arguing for a centralised model for public procurement for many years, so I’m pleased someone has finally noticed. For the past quarter of a century or so there have been reasonable government procurement policies that have largely failed to be implemented because there has been no mechanism for doing so, and there have been all sorts of problems with some major spends. With public sector procurement spend worth roughly £3,500 to each member of the UK population, this is a huge amount of money not to be managing coherently to deliver value for money and economic growth. (more…)
January 23, 2013
In or out of the European Union? That is the question David Cameron has promised to give the people of the UK the chance to answer.
In a speech at Bloomberg HQ this morning, the Prime Minister said his party would put negotiating a better deal for Britain’s role in the EU, front and centre of its manifesto for 2015.
If successful in winning a majority, it would then launch a referendum, simply asking should Britain be in or out of the EU. By extension, the referendum would also be asking whether or not EU procurement rules would continue to impact on UK buyers. (more…)
August 2, 2012
The poor performance of the UK economy means that the public sector procurement expenditure of around £230 billion a year will increasingly be seen as a possible route to salvation. So it would not be surprising if the following phrases and policies become increasingly familiar. (more…)
March 29, 2012
It’s all over the news this morning about Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude making his jerry can comment – that to prepare for the oil tanker strike, people should store petrol at home (even though a jerry can holds 20 litres, which is above the limit of fuel that can be stored at home). Maude runs the risk of perhaps being too honest. He, like other ministers, needs to think carefully about the message being sent. (more…)
February 24, 2012
As a former climatologist, I find global warming – though the activity of humans burning fossil fuels and destroying CO2 ‘sinks’ such as tropical rain forests – both fascinating and alarming. (more…)
February 6, 2012
The government’s policy on increasing the amount of its business with SMEs has been clarified in a letter I received this week from the Cabinet Office. Or has it? (more…)
December 22, 2011
What does ‘most economically advantageous tender’ mean?
Public sector procurers will immediately think of the EU Procurement Directives, the definition including quality, price, aesthetics, technical merit, functional characteristics, environmental characteristics, running costs, after sales service and delivery schedule. It is up to the contracting authority to decide which elements to include and the respective weightings. (more…)