UK councils urged to ‘spring clean’ procurement

Councils in the UK have been urged to 'spring clean' their procurement systems by an independent review which has also called for more support for local government in cost saving initiatives and best practice.
The Review of Arrangements for Efficiencies from Smarter Procurement in Local Government, carried out by Bill Roots, a former council CEO, examined the procurement of goods, services and capital purchases to identify ways to improve council efficiency savings.

“Significant savings from smarter procurement is central to the £4.9 billion ($11.1 million) of efficiencies expected of local government,” Roots said in releasing the review.

“Improvements have already been made in recent years but there is still more than could be done.”

Although the Roots Review found there to have been improvements in procurement practices in recent years, there was scope to further improve value for money and reduce the £42bn ($95bn) spent on external contracts by UK local government in 2007.

The report suggested the appointment of a new local government procurement champion and greater support from Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnerships (RIEPS) by increasing the practical procurement advice and 'best buy' information they hold.

The last assessment of UK local government procurement systems took place in 2001.

The review recommended that RIEPS should: Promote better workings between councils and small and medium enterprises (SMEs); act as a hub and catalogue for best deals information using the available expertise within government and make much more transparent to councils the impact of falling below 'best practice standards' on procurement.

"I believe a 'champion' within local government is needed to lead and co-ordinate procurement efficiency, and Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnerships (RIEPs) are ideally placed to become one-stop shops for expert advice and 'best buy' information,” Roots said.

The review also recommended that local authorities carry out annual procurement arrangement reviews and for the private sector to be encouraged to offer solutions to known issues, not just await tendering processes before responding.

“The recommendations I have set out will help drive forward the work to make local government procurement practices even more efficient and give council taxpayers greater value for money,” Roots added.

To view the Review click here.

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