I have spent much of the past week helping review material for submissions to the Public Administration Select Committee enquiry. I have also done one of my own to cover points not likely to be made by others. Yesterday, however, I took time out to review the latest IT Trends report from SOCITM, so that I could comment (at the press launch). I read the benchmarking section was struck by how much less local authorities spend for equivalent products and services – e.g. cost of ownership for a PC workstation . It led me to ponder what poor value for money central government gets from most of its framework agreements, let alone its outsourcing and PFI deals.
The need is not for centralised procurement but for a market in procurement services. This is particularly so when schools, for example, are being cut adrift.
I was also intrigued by the way in which Councils are expected to disclose all spend over £500 while Cabinet Office is negotiating behind closed doors with its Top 19 ICT suppliers. When will the NHS contracts, the Hospital PFIs as well as the NPfIT contracts be put into the public domain. I understand the need for commercial confidentiality while a competitive procurement is under way but afterwards ….?