The Cabinet Office has unveiled a package of measures that it says will “revolutionise” how the government buys services from the private sector

inister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude
Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude

Spearheaded by the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, the measures aim to “stimulate growth by ending the public sector’s short-righted and risk-averse approach to business”.

The measures include:

  • a reduction in the time it takes to complete a procurement process from the current average of 200 days to no more than 120
  • rolling, publicly accessible medium-term pipelines for service opportunities in a number of sectors, including construction and infrastructure
  • an “open door” for current and future suppliers to discuss upcoming procurement opportunities.

Maude said: “UK-based suppliers are finding themselves excluded, opportunities for growth are missed due to the public sector’s timidity and carrying out a procurement in the UK costs more than twice as much as in France.” According to government figures, the average UK public sector procurement currently costs about £46,000, compared with £19,000 in France.

The Landscape Institute welcomed this new, less rigid approach to procurement. On 22 November, it approvingly tweeted a quote from Maude in which he said that the public sector should not be afraid of talking to suppliers informally: “It makes commercial sense to nurture our relationships with suppliers and to discuss what’s coming up on pipelines, investment plans, supply chains and pre-procurement issues.”

Further details of the proposals will be announced in the government’s Growth Review on 29 November.

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