As the only North American procurement expert invited to participate in the UK-based roundtable discussion regarding the just released Sir Philip Green Review of UK Government procurement policy and process, I found the perspectives presented during the course of the hour to be both interesting and often insightful.
When you have a moment, be sure to listen to the on-demand version of the original broadcast which aired on Monday, October 18th, 2010.
–Previous Administration’s Services Expenditures Questioned, Ample Room for Contract Management Improvements-
LONDON (25 October 2010) – Produced by The Shared Services & Outsourcing Network (SSON), the largest and most established community of shared services and outsourcing professionals, a recent roundtable of industry experts analyzed inefficiencies in public spending. Citing government waste as a direct result of the lack of defined practices for managing supply contracts and relationships, the roundtable experts included Mo Ali (Previously Head of Procurement & Project Procurement Specialist at the E-Delivery Team, The Cabinet Office); Jon Hansen (Procurement Insights Founder); Tim Cummins (President and Chief Executive Officer, IACCM); Lynda Atherton-Miles (Shared Services Professional); Lee Parry (Programme Manager at Fife Council, Previously Procurement Scotland Project Lead, The Scottish Government); Guy Stafford (Client Director, buyingTeam) – the session was chaired by Mark Kobayashi-Hillary (Author, Blogger).
Earlier in October, British Prime Minister David Cameron gave a speech attacking the previous administration’s “crazy services expenditures. “ A recent review by Sir Philip Green highlighted some of the decisions on IT spending and other procurement by the Labour government of which the present administration has been critical. In the Prime Minister’s words, the previous government made crazy decisions about property, about IT, about shared services. Sir Philip’s recommendation is that there should be a mandate for central procurement that is the centralization of the entire procurement function.
Roundtable participants echoed this sentiment, underscoring their positions with evidence of effective shared services models from the private sector. Mo Ali stated that the supply community is just as much at fault in the procurement process as they have resisted change. Tim Cummins commented that where collaboration has occurred, it tended to lead to greater overall successes and that adversarial attitudes lead to failure. Lynda Atherton-Miles observed that for government, there’s such a lack of collaboration between different public bodies, different government departments, different local authorities, etc. and that they’re all looking for their own solutions in response to budget cuts.
Atherton-Miles continued, “In my view, the government should be looking at best practices, mandating systems, mandating process within a public sector and really setting out a strategy and a vision for sharing services.”
The lively debate also touched upon how the government is not taking the lead in setting forth a clear direction. In fact, roundtable participants bemoaned how the government is allowing major suppliers to tell them how to save money rather than to establish the best practices and shared services models that will improve service delivery while reducing costs.
Download the full transcript of the roundtable discussion here or listen to the roundtable session here. SSON experts are available for further commentary on this important topic.
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