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Government 'failing' to reach the grade on procurement process

Date 29 Aug 2007

Government procurement processes remain flawed and are failing to achieve full value for the taxpayer according to a report published today by EEF Northern, the manufacturers' organisation. Despite positive intentions and a range of initiatives EEF Northern believes the current system of public procurement is not delivering and a step change is now required to transform public procurement processes and boost innovation.

The group's announcement said that extensive interviews with defence and medical companies had shown too much emphasis is still being placed on short-term efficiency savings at the expense of long-term planning. Furthermore, public procurers also often lack the skills or the incentives to purchase innovative solutions.

In response, EEF Northern believes significant investment is required in the skills of procurers and to simplify the guidance that they have to follow. Government must make a break with the previous feast and famine approach and communicate a long-term procurement strategy that would provide suppliers with much greater certainty over demand. Taking these steps would stimulate greater innovation by business, improve public services and provide tax payers with better value for money.

EEF Northern Director, Alan Hall, said: "Given the size of its budget, Government can play a critical role in fostering innovation. Companies in the defence industry have seen a significant improvement but overall progress has been patchy despite a range of reviews and initiatives. Business remains frustrated by the high administrative costs and long delays involved in tendering for Government contracts."

EEF Northern has called for the several recommendations to be implemented to improve the public procurement process and help boost innovation, including the creation of an enhanced Technology Strategy Board to upgrade the skills of public procurers.

Alan Hall said: "By giving the Technology Strategy Board a wider remit, investing in the skills of procurers and simplifying the guidance on procurement so that it focuses on lifetime value for money Government would go a long way towards addressing the current failings."

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