Procurement officers showing early support for new National Procurement Strategy

7th March 2018

Since the current National Procurement Strategy for Local Government was published in 2014, much has happened to affect the commissioning, procurement and contract management landscape for local authorities. There are now Combined Authorities in place, there have been significant cuts to government funding affecting front-line services and a number of shocks within the public sector supply chain, most prominently the recent collapse of Carillion in January 2018.

On top of that, the legal framework for procurement, the “Public Contracts Regulations”, was updated in 2015.  These regulations are primarily based on relevant EU legislation and the future impact of the UK leaving the European Union in 2019 is as yet unclear but potentially significant.

Against that backdrop, senior procurement officers from across the East of England met at West Suffolk House in Bury St Edmunds on 14th February to consider and debate the content of an updated National Procurement Strategy which is set to be launched in the Summer of 2018. Brought together by the East of England LGA, officers representing 29 of the 52 authorities in the region took the opportunity to have their say on everything from commissioning to contract management and all points in between.

With discussion focussed around three emerging themes of “Community Benefits”, “Leadership” and “Behaving Commercially”, there was plenty of lively debate about the structure, content and purpose of the national strategy. Overall, there was a consensus that the strategy needed to demonstrate ambition if procurement is to meet the challenges facing the sector in the years ahead.

As one delegate remarked, “After the collapse of Carillion, public sector procurement is in the spotlight like never before, featuring in Prime Minister’s Questions, tabloid newspaper headlines and grabbing the attention of Elected Members and Chief Executives. There’s never been a better time to demonstrate the value that the profession can deliver.”

Senior Procurement staff engaged in lively debate about the new National Procurement Strategy at West Suffolk House on 14th February 2018

A draft of the new strategy will be out for consultation in April with a view to being launched at the national LGA Conference in July.

After publication, the strategy will be supported by a diagnostic tool, enabling authorities to assess themselves against the themes in the strategy using a “Maturity Index”. This will provide a focussed framework for identifying areas of improvement, as well as an opportunity for authorities to share learning with each other and to spread good practice using the principles of sector-led improvement.

The East of England LGA’s Senior Manager, Eddie Gibson, represents the region on the “National Advisory Group for Local Government Procurement”, who have overall responsibility for devising and delivering the strategy.

Please contact Eddie for more information about the National Procurement Strategy, as well as our other work supporting best practice procurement across the East of England – e-mail or call him on 01284 758310.

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