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Crown Clowns - Procurement Service Shoddy

29 March 2017 | Updated 01 January 1970
 

A Government body set up to save public money by buying common goods and services centrally has delivered disappointing results, says the Public Accounts Committee.

In their report the Committee examines the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), established in 2014 with the aim of centralising £13.4 billion of central government spending and to carry out direct buying services on behalf of all departments.

It was intended to improve government's management of commercial contracts and also provide framework agreements to enable both central government departments and the wider public sector to purchase common goods and services.

 

Only £2.5 billion of spending managed instead of £13 billion

The Committee concluded the creation of CCS was poorly executed and progress in centralising procurement has been slow, with CCS only managing £2.5 billion of spend on behalf of seven departments instead of the £13 billion, on behalf of all 17 departments, predicted in 2014.

The overall performance of CCS has been poor, says the Committee, which highlights the fact it 'did not have detailed plans from the start setting out how it would collaborate with departments, and failed to gain their confidence'.

The Committee also found the CCS's management of procurement frameworks remains unsatisfactory and its current governance structure is 'confusing, blurs accountability and reduces clarity of its purpose'.

 

Spending should be transferred as soon as practicable

Among its recommendations to Government, the Committee calls for action to ensure all departments understand the importance of achieving savings from centralised purchasing 'and transfer appropriate spending to CCS as soon as practicable'.

Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Committee, said: "Government really needs to sharpen up if this latest attempt to centralise buying is to function properly.

"The Crown Commercial Service was set up with the intention of saving public money. But so far it is only managing around a fifth of the spending it expected to and is a long way from achieving its potential.

"This is a dismal showing that calls into question exactly how willing Government departments are to accept the authority of the Cabinet Office in this area.

"There were clearly fundamental problems at the launch of CCS but even now it is unclear exactly how progress will be made during this Parliament and beyond. 

"Meanwhile the taxpayer is losing out."

Picture: A Public Accounts Committee report says that the Cabinet Office must ensure departments buy-in to system intended to save taxpayers' money

Article written by Brian Shillibeer | Published 29 March 2017

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