Improving the Efficiency of Public Procurement - The Role of Standards
The government has challenged public sector procurement professionals as never before to make savings by improving efficiency. This is not just a matter of encouraging good practice and cutting costs. Ministers want to spend more public money on services without increasing taxes, creating a strong political imperative to the efficiency drive launched by the 2004 Gershon report. Officers are under pressure to explore every opportunity to deliver savings without compromising quality. Yet ironically that pressure can lead to waste if they start from scratch in seeking procurement process improvements, or if different parts of large organizations make an uncoordinated approach to markets. Time and resources can be lost ‘reinventing the wheel’ when the work has already been done. Standardization can help procurement professionals to meet their targets – it allows them to use tried and tested processes to procure products and services that they can be sure will meet their objectives. Standards bring predictability and confidence to procurement, whether an organization uses existing standards or commissions bespoke ones. They can also help to ensure that procurement meets other policy objectives, such as requirements to foster sustainability or to buy from small businesses. The government intends the use of better procurement techniques to take root and outlast the present three-year targets – those involved will find standards an invaluable weapon in their efforts to secure continuous improvement.
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