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Cabinet office officials call for centralised crown procurement services

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Posted on 27/03/2013 by Wayne Brophy FCILT

The government has been urged to introduce a centralised crown procurement service in a bid to provide more transparency to the public.

Cabinet office chief operating officer, Stephen Kelly, who is also responsible for government procurement, and chief procurement officer Bill Crothers have highlighted the need for ministers to make their buying more centralised. Giving evidence to the Commons public administration select committee on Monday (March 25th), the pair recommended that details of all supply contracts should be made fully available. A move of this ilk is designed to prevent some supplier receiving "supernormal profits" from the government.

The Guardian reports that Mr Crothers told MPs that individual departments needed to drop the control they have over the procurement process. He went on to say that the government's £45 billion budget for this system is spread across 50 to 100 suppliers meaning that the companies will regard ministers as their biggest and this in turn can lead to a poorer service as opposed to doing the same kinds of transactions with smaller businesses.

Mr Kelly argued that by having a centralised crown procurement service it would help to "offer much better value for the taxpayer, better transparency, better data, better negotiating power, better competition". It means that the government can garner improved competition between a number of different companies to determine which supplier would be able to do a more competent job and ultimately would move away from the money-driven focus that may have been prevalent in the past.

Suppliers currently have to compete with other organisations for government business by signing up to an online register. If a company is successful in securing a procurement contract the cabinet office states that additional framework agreements can not be awarded. Any public sector tenders which is worth over £10,000 can be viewed by the public on the government's contracts finder section of the website.

By creating more transparency the government believes it will help to create a more level playing for these contracts.

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