Local Government Review — May 2014: improving local government procurement

On 13 March 2014, the Communities and Local Government Committee of the House of Commons published its report on local government procurement. This is the result of an inquiry that the committee launched in July 2013 to look at how effective recent procurement reforms had been in improving local government procurement approaches and the potential for further development. The inquiry focused on procurement in its widest sense, not simply the purchase of goods but also the wider commissioning of services and the management of contracts, including outsourcing of service delivery. These are some of the findings and recommendations.

The inquiry looked at whether local government would benefit from using a centralised procurement system such as central government’s Crown Commercial Service. The view was that local authorities needed to retain local control over procurement in order to best meet local needs. Some national arrangements, such as for energy purchase, might be beneficial, but local authorities should be able to enter these if they choose, not to be forced to.

On the other hand, the report sees value in local authorities adopting a collaborative approach to procurement. The number of shared procurement services doubled during 2011–12, with 75 councils now in 16 formal joint purchasing arrangements. On average, collaboration is estimated to be generating savings of 10–15 per cent. There is scope for much greater collaboration and the Local Government Association (LGA) is asked to conduct a review of collaborative approaches and produce best practice guidance…

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