Back in November, I commented on the lack of transparency in MOUs agreed between the Cabinet Office and the Government’s largest IT suppliers.
I expressed doubt that the Cabinet Office MOUs would demonstrate concessions by the major enterprise software vendors that would realise tangible savings, cost reductions or more importantly, transferability of assets across the Crown estate.
Rather, I mused, that the software vendors would position to sell even more software at greater cost to support Government initiatives in shared services and cloud based models.
I took no real satisfaction as a UK stakeholder in feeling I had been right. Until that is, when the Cabinet Office formally announced it was amalgamating its centralised procurement initiatives into Francis Maudes’ new “Government Procurement” serviceled by Government purchasing supremo John Collington.
Most significantly, it will fold-in Buying Solutions as its procurement best practice engine room,thus doubling the critical mass of centrally managed and coordinated procurement for core central government targeted categories. With David Shields appointed as MD of Buying Solutions and working tightly with Maude, Collington and Departmental Commercial Directors, there is the promise of greater transparency and cost savings against open and stretching targets.
A wolf in sheep’s clothing?
Whilst we have always seen Buying Solutions as well intentioned, I have seen its clout and real impact diluted by too many side-line vendor negotiations and breaches in the ranks. It has therefore been somewhat dismissed by the vendors themselves.
This latest move could also be dismissed as a cosmetic reshuffle but my own sense is that this time they mean business and Government Procurement has top down support. Driven by the absolute cuts in budgets, the trinity of Cabinet Office, Central Department stakeholders and Buying Solutions looks likely to be a doggedly united fighting force.
The vendors may well hear the gnashing of teeth and continue to dismiss the demands for better value, but the smarter ones should be ready to be bitten if they cannot support the cause.
I’ll be watching and it will be interesting to hear if any public sector readers are raising their expectations?