Let’s support the APDIG and DBA plan to reform Civil Service procurement

The manifesto is in place: let the campaigning begin. We’re not talking about a beleaguered political party here. The design community is taking its stand against shoddy procurement practices within the Civil Service.

The ten-point plan created by the Associate Parliamentary Design & Innovation Group with the Design Business Association contains measures that could make a real difference for design and lead to more effective use of Government cash. We should get behind them, because they could benefit UK plc and society at large.

Arguably the most controversial is the plan to scrap the COI’s role as a commissioning body in design, with the proposed chief advisor for design having the greatest potential to effect change in Government, whatever party is in power. Echoing the scenario in science, the move to institute a design champion in the Civil Service might ensure that other recommendations fall into place.

The design community has been quiet for too long about its ability to enhance effectiveness

But the manifesto is only part of the story. Activists like APDIG panel member Julian Grice of The Team have been there before, particularly with initiatives to train design-buyers in Government departments. The key will be in the quality of the campaign. With public opinion – and potential voters – on its side, the design industry stands a better change of getting its point across to politicians and to civil servants.

The design community has been quiet for too long about its ability to enhance effectiveness in the public sector. It has been left to the Design Council to talk to its Government paymasters and the media, with other bodies remaining silent – the unfortunate timing of the APDIG report to coincide with a document on BBC cuts meant it didn’t even get a mention on BBC Four’s Today programme.

It’s time for the DBA and others to raise debate in the media. Engage the hearts and minds of the people and we can hope to succeed with a campaign to change attitudes.

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