Public sector – UK government advocates new strategic approach to procurement
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Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, has announced a new strategic approach to how government procures goods and services. Since coming into power, the coalition Government has already saved £800m by renegotiating existing contracts. Maude now wants the Government to:
- Work closely with domestic firms so they are geared up to win British and other European contracts;
- Stop over-interpreting EU law and overreacting to fears of bias in favour of British suppliers;
- Talk to suppliers before starting major procurements because "it is not illegal for public sector procurers to talk to suppliers … it’s plain common sense and good commercial practice";
- Nurture mutually beneficial long-term relationships with key suppliers and make it easier and less expensive for SMEs to work with Government; and
- Be the most pro-business Government ever and open its doors to all kinds of business and business models.
In 2011, the Government launched a website to enable suppliers to find tender opportunities and the public to see what Government has bought/is buying. Maude's new strategy will also mean:
- New LEAN sourcing principles being implemented across Government from January so that "all but the most complex procurement turnarounds to within 120 working days – a 40% reduction";
- A "presumption against the use of the clunky and protracted competitive dialogue process which in our view slows things up unnecessarily"; and
- Negotiating with the EU to radically simplify the public procurement Directives.
In addition to simplifying the process, the Government is attempting to give IT and FM suppliers certainty by publishing a resource pipeline showing £50bn+ worth of potential business for the lifetime of the coalition Government (with further pipelines planned for other sectors).
We have been working with a number of clients over the past few months to help them with LEAN sourcing. Although bid time and costs are being reduced, it is important to ensure that this is not compromising the quality of the tender documentation, including the contract.