Sir Philip Green recommends centralised Government procurement to cut spend

Arcadia boss Sir Philip Green has recommended that the Government centralises some procurement and ‘leverages its name, its credit rating and its buying power’ in his review of Government spending.

Green has made the recommendations in an efficiency review which he says focuses on commodity procurement, property and major contracts.

In the review he suggests that Government departments should mandate central procurement for ‘common categories to leverage this buying power and achieve best practice’. Design buying is not specifically mentioned in the report.

Green also says that all transactions should require authorisation. At the moment central Government allows expenditure up to £1000 without monitoring or authorisation.

In his report, Green says, ‘Government does not leverage its buying power, nor does it follow best practice. Procurement data is shocking – it’s both inconsistent and hard to get at.’

Jocelyn Bailey, manager of the Associate Parliamentary Design & Innovation Group, says it is important for the Government to maintain a distinction between purchases that can be centralised and those that can’t.

She says, ‘I think there should be real clarity about what you are buying. There is no real issue with centralised buying of paperclips, but there has to be a real distinction between products and objects and services.’

Adam Fennelow, development director at the Design Business Association, says, ’We think the idea of centralised procurement is good for commodities. What we are concerned about is how centralised procurement could work for services, including design.’

He adds, ’The other area we are concerned about is process. If Government can look at the process of buying, and bring service design people in to look at that, this will save time and money for the Government and for companies supplying it.’

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