back to article Well, well. Auditors say UK govt procurement body hasn't saved your tax cash

The UK government's procurement arm, the Crown Commercial Service, has failed to save taxpayers' cash – according to the National Audit office. CCS is responsible for funnelling billions of pounds of IT spend through large framework contracts, a practice which tends to favour larger suppliers. It was responsible for £12.8bn in …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bit click-baity, eh?

    Headline says CCS HASN'T saved any cash.

    Actual quote from NAO says it isn't possible to tell whether money has been saved or not.

    You are taboola and I claim my £5.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Bit click-baity, eh?

      "Actual quote from NAO says it isn't possible to tell whether money has been saved or not."

      It's a good trick. Be in such a mess that the NAO can't audit you effectively.

      1. Chris Miller

        Re: Bit click-baity, eh?

        If your only purpose in existing is to save money by centralising procurement, and you're unable to demonstrate that you've actually saved any money, I think we can safely say that we're in epic fail territory.

        1. John Mangan

          Re: Bit click-baity, eh?

          . . . except they do claim to have saved money. It's just that NAO questions the basis of that.

          Again, the headline goes too far.

          1. Chris Miller

            Re: Bit click-baity, eh?

            I can claim to be the world's greatest lover. Independent testing of that claim has raised a few question marks, sadly.

    2. Dave 15 Silver badge

      Re: Bit click-baity, eh?

      If it can't say then the correct conclusion is that it failed, this is diplomatic and politically correct phrasing for 'it didnt work but we darent say so because our political masters dont want to hear that and the guy running the show is slipping us some schkels from his latest undeserved payrise to avoid being sacked for incompetence'

  2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Economies of scale?

    Central buying should achieve very large savings

    Well, yes, obviously. A corner shop can get better prices by going through Spar than by itself from the Cash-and-carry.

    But I suspect that most government departments are of a size that they'd get pretty damn good deals in their own right, so any further savings from completely centralised procurement would be marginal at best. And by having contracts so large that only a few companies can satisfy them rather opens them to non-competetive deals.

    1. R69

      Re: Economies of scale?

      It's difficult to achieve anything with poor quality staff and even worse management who are nigh on impossible to replace, have almost no meaningful performance measurement criteria and don't seem to understand that their collective role is to save money by doing things differently, not by repeating the same shit over and over again and expecting a different outcome.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Economies of scale?

      This is not a central government procurement thing, but it is a UK public sector thing ... centralised procurement of software licenses via "corporate" IT department: the actual end-user department had the skills and ability to support itself, but corporate IT will only buy things they support (an unwanted / unnecessary complication, cost and middle-man).The final purchasing price, if it goes through, is around 30% higher than direct purchase would have been (a combination of amazingly unskilled negotiation, plus need to cover some training costs for the unwanted middlemen)

      if Central government works in the same wonderful way, centralised procurement will probably cost 25% more on everything rather than saving anything ...

    3. Chris Miller

      Re: Economies of scale?

      Long, long ago I was taking tea and biccies with the Head of BT Martlesham. He explained that he always sent his PA out to buy the biscuits from the local Tesco: "BT spends £4 million a year on biscuits, but it's cheaper to buy them from Tesco than through central purchasing."

      1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Economies of scale?

        Did he include his PA's time in the pricing?

  3. Yesnomaybe

    Not so unusual

    The purchasing framework I am forced to use, bizarrely manages to price most things 10% above the normal retail-cost of whatever we want to buy.

    And from personal experience, having a procurement/purchasing department is a 100% gold-plated dead-cert way of getting the WRONG equipment LATE and more EXPENSIVE that it would otherwise be.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Not so unusual

      Yes, but just think how satisfying all that neatly-completed paperwork must look to a beancounter. Remember, the message is the medium!

      1. Yesnomaybe

        Re: Not so unusual

        "Yes, but just think how satisfying all that neatly-completed paperwork must look to a beancounter. Remember, the message is the medium!"

        That's a bleak and jaded world view you have there! So I instinctively sense the truth of your wise words.

  4. AndrueC Silver badge

    Well, well, well..

    ..three holes in the ground.

    Which pretty nicely describes government procurement.

  5. Joefish

    Value for money, no matter the cost.

    Anyway, I thought CCS stood for "Capita's Cash Spout".

  6. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    "should achieve very large savings.. not clear exactly what spending should be centralised"


    And avoiding all those "We simply have to have things just a little bit different from everyone else because..." conversations would help as well.

    BTW if they get £67m+ in "benefits" off these framework contracts and the outfit costs £66.4m that's a £600K+ profit, is it not?

    Who gets that?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: "should achieve very large savings.. not clear exactly what spending should be centralised"

      "Who gets that?"

      Probably Crapita.

  7. Dave 15 Silver badge

    Where does all the money go

    This government collects even more tax than the last one.... a trend which seems to continue regardless of the party in charge.

    Where does it go? Well not on the Royal Navy, we have nothing there any more (just sent the last aircraft carrier to scrap because we scrapped all its aircraft), not to the airforce because they have no planes, nor the army (it can't fill a football stadium so its not an army).

    What money the government does collect (and it is a huge amount) goes almost entirely to:

    Germany for police cars, fire engines, ambulances.

    France for Indian produced software and army lorries

    China for uniforms for the armed forces

    America for late, under developed and faulty aircraft

    Sweden for the police cars the Germans don't supply

    Spain for army tanks

    Belgium for army guns

    South Africa for bullets...

    Anywhere in the world for free cash handouts to spend elsewhere

    The list goes on.

    What is apparent is that none of this saves us any money. What happens is that the company uses OUR tax money to employ people in THEIR country (as indeed I would if the boot was on the other foot). These people pay tax in the country that employs them (so we miss out on that revenue). We as tax payers have to pay those who could and should produce the goods to sit watching day time television. Then we have to watch as the people we still manage to employ making cars, tanks, plane bits etc. have to watch as their offshore competition say 'you don't want to buy from them, even the UK government wont, they must be total crap... buy from us instead' and see the remaining orders dry up and disappear.

    And frankly, if Jaguar tried to sell a police car to say Ethiopia and the Ethiopians looked at our roads and saw BMW, Volvo etc police cars would they buy Jaguar... of course not

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Where does all the money go

      Clearly, they need to line up with the torys and proclaim that since Brexit they must ONLY PURCHASE BRITISH GOODS AND SERVICES!

      What does the UK make other than tea cakes and scones? I have no fucking idea.

      "Oh yeah, the Sinclair ZX81! We're saved! God Save The Queen!!1! We can go back to hiding behind our cardboard doors, sing the song, and try and reset our Talk Talk routers! Three cheers!"

      1. Chris Miller

        Re: Where does all the money go

        "I have no fucking idea."

        The only correct statement in your diatribe.

        FYI: The world's second largest aerospace manufacturer. The world's third largest pharmaceutical manufacturer. Tenth largest car manufacturer by volume (but since ahead of us in the table are China, India and S Korea, I suspect the results by value might be slightly better). I could go on ...

  8. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    As ever, Sir Humphry knows

    "What is it 741 people do exactly?"

    1. Contingency planning Department

    2. Data and Research Department

    3. Finance

    4. Purchasing Department

    5. Technical Department

    6. Building Department

    7. Maintenance

    8. Catering

    9. Personnel

    10. Administration

    Minister, we don't measure our success by results, but by activity. and the activity is considerable. And productive. These 500 people are seriously overworked - the full establishment should be 650.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: As ever, Sir Humphry knows

      "Doctor" Syntax, quoting the Yes Minister about St. Edwards Hospital?

      Yes, Doctor.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: As ever, Sir Humphry knows

        "Yes Minister about St. Edwards Hospital"

        It must be about 3 decades old by now and still fits today like a glove. Should we laugh or weep?

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