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New central procurement body 'will absorb Buying Solutions'

2 June 2011

A new central procurement organisation expected to subsume the current role of Buying Solutions will soon be created by the government.

John Collington, the Cabinet Office's central procurement officer, told Supply Management that the body will have a mandate to oversee the purchase of common goods and services, train staff and assist other departments with specialised purchases.

He is set to head up the organisation, which will be known simply as Government Procurement and may provide fresh opportunities for executives with supply chain and procurement expertise.

According to Mr Collington, the body will aim to save £3 billion annually by the end of March 2013 by improving the buying practices for common goods and services.

There are also plans to enhance procurement processes associated with strategic purchases, such as equipment for the armed forces.

Mr Collington said the government is currently in discussions about using some surplus capital from the Buying Solutions trading fund to set up a new training programme.

"[We are] determined to use this opportunity to improve the capability of all civil servants involved in procurement," he told the publication.

Buying Solutions is currently part of the Cabinet Office's Efficiency and Reform Group and was formed in the wake of the Gershon Report in 2001.

The government's decision to have the agency absorbed by a new body represents the latest attempt to drive efficiency in Whitehall through the overhaul of procurement functions.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said centralising procurement has already delivered significant savings for the coalition.

"It is bonkers for different parts of government to be paying vastly different prices for exactly the same goods," he commented.

"Until recently, there wasn't even any proper central data on procurement spending."

A review carried out by retail tycoon Sir Philip Green last year said the government should centralise procurement functions and leverage its scale, buying power and credit rating to achieve better value for money.

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Categories: Central Government


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