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back to article UK gov to create central procurement team

The Cabinet Office is to create a central team for the procurement of widely used goods and services for the whole of government. Named Government Procurement, it will set up contracts that use a single price for a specific good or service, and is aimed at removing disparities in price between departments. It will be led by the …

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I've been saying this for years!

What is unclear from the article however, is if procurement via CO will be mandatory - it absolutely should not be, however, it should be mandated to be one of the options where competing quotes are required.

This allows local government to pop to the corner shop for a box of paper yet still meaning they are getting a good price (you could add metrics for cost of a box of paper + delivery + time, ie if you need the paper now, it's no good saving 50p/ream if it takes a week to arrive from CO!).

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Anonymous Coward

It should me mandatory.

That's a problem with the local supply people being incompetent though. Needing to buy anything at under a week's notice really points to the supply people not having their act together. I picked up responsibility for stationary at one point. After a week I could see we went through about a hundred reams of paper a week. Result; a visit from a senior account manager to negotiate some reasonable prices.

Having negotiated a price about half the catalogue price and actually a bit under the RRP; we had a standing order for a hundred reams delivered weekly, plus a one off order of 200 reams so we had a week extra paper sitting around to make sure we never ran out. (and some really massive orders for pens, staples etc etc etc.)

Orders that came to me came from the stationary store, which was then restocked about once a week.

Now, if I can do it, why can't local government?

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LPF

About time too..

No more taking the whizz with government procument, no more £20 Light Bulbs!!

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LPF

Addtionally

If your price for goods or service ia higher than the centralsgovernments you have to justify in public why you should use the more expensive serive. No more "commericial in cofidence"

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Coat

Its common sense to let people buy their own paperclips

As usual, Messers Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn got there first ...

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FAIL

Been there done that

MoD had a department who quite happily negotiated contract for computers you could by out of a catalogue - guaranteed price was fixed for a year etc. - at the computers were getting cheaper each month and the price they negotiated wasn't that brilliant for the first month.

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SMB's

dont get involved in *real* gov projects as there is usually a significant qualifying cost involved.

This cost is usually significantly more than most projects - which ensures the existing players get the choice jobs. The crap they do not want to get involved with are then "opened" up to the mugs^WSMB sector.

There are currently a few parts of the government who realise that smaller, more skilled and capable business can be cheaper, faster and better - but any "Pork barrel" jobs stay "qualified".

Note that this is not unique to .gov - larger multinationals run quality suppliers lists - with sometimes expensive qualification procedures that are only skipped when they need to buy a certain companies products.

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Facepalm

Disaster waiting to happen

Having seen central procurement through things like DGICS I won't be surprised to see this become a disaster. Because the central procurement people wield so much procurement power, they suffer low level corruption by big companies trying to get into the catalogue. Combined with the fact that the central procurement people aren't using the stuff they are procuring they tend to get bad deals at bad prices.

I wait to be proven wrong though.

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Bronze badge
Meh

Mixed feelings

IF the prices will be sensible, I would be happy to see this (except, isn't this what the Office of Government Commerce was supposed to be doing anyway?) - but I still remember years ago stumbling across a chunk of NHS having negotiated "special" secret prices for its PCs. They certainly were "special": more expensive than you'd pay for the same model from the same manufacturer on the High Street buying retail! More recently, I'm seeing one negotiating to pay up to £8k/yr for a single Amazon EC2 'Tiny' instance ... price directly from Amazon, much less than one tenth of that.

Now, if individuals across the government are free to buy from cheaper suppliers when available, and get a cut of the savings for doing it, I'd be very happy with it.

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Gold badge
Joke

Does this make John Collington

The Chief Government Procurer?

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A Title

I do belive that this has been done before and was done away with as the gubmint at the time decided that the private sector was much better at this sort of thing the department was HMSO.

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Silver badge
Big Brother

HMSO

I recall HMSO supplying notepads, typewriters, desks, briefcases all alike to employment exchanges, Customs clerks in Ports, telephone exchanges and the NHS. Worked remarkably well, and remarkably efficiently. OK, a lot of things were brown, and the paper was a bit hairy, but the economies of scale were vast and simple to understand.

Bring back HMSO I say

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Bronze badge
Facepalm

indeed so

Used to be central purchasing standing offer contracts for ready use items in Oz public service.

JJackboot and his predecessors in luv with overseas invisible economic fairy floggers killed that.

One could still buy in bulk cheaper if purchase was big enough, but that was rare.

Remote area offices could and did use local stores for small purchases, so it worked well when not driven by idiot ideology and rigid process droids. Sounds like all western governments were taken over by the invisible economic fairy brigade. Worse, still not recovered.

Where is the economists version Oliver Cromwell when you need one ?

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Holmes

Been there done that

Some years ago, I was the "supply specialist" for my office, one of many offices of a federal agency, and had authority to buy where ever I could get the best price and delivery time. Then some senior executive at HQ got the idea of having negotiated contracts for all of our supply purchases and made their use mandatory... Almost invariably, the contract price was 10-20% higher than I would have had to pay by having a local supplier, even a store from the contractor's national retail operation. but hey, we got free delivery most of the time. With the contractor's retail side, I could just go to the store, a 5-10 minute drive and have the product immediately. With the contract, I had to call the contractor's national number, go through the rigamarole with the operator, and wait 3-5 days for the shipment to arrive from their regional warehouse. Now, it's even worse for my replacement... before she can place the order (even for a case of toilet paper or box of pens), she has to go through three (or is it four?) levels of managerial approval, all online, wait for the approval to come back when each manager gets around to answering his/her email, THEN make the telephone call. It has sometimes taken a week to get the final manager's approval because the manager was out of the office.

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Bronze badge

Just ask New South Wales...

NSW government did this experiment a few years back. Aside from the comical if it wasn't so serious choices of brands and products (Acer laptops for example), there was thousands of man-hours wasted trying to order anything, and product lists were usually out of date by the time they were published (meaning the only items available to purchase were no longer available).

The best part - NSW Department Of Commerce made the exception that if you were aiming to spend over $1million, you got to just put it to tender and choose your own supplier anyway. So the biggest spenders got to blow however much they wanted on whatever they wanted.

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Alert

Procurement teams...

have been around for years - they just aren't very good. The stationery budgets were ridiculous - £60 for a box of A4 paper (5 reams) when a search on ebay would provide the same thing for a 1/4 of the price. Or they could go to Staples and get a box for £11. Hum.

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