The whole public sector should take advantage of better procurement by the centre, Sir Philip Green concluded in his damning report on efficiency in Whitehall.
One the business magnate’s core recommendations was to price common items, such as office supplies, at the same level for all central government departments and making contracts available to the wider public sector.
The report will make uncomfortable reading for some in Whitehall with the government accused of “failing to leverage both its credit rating and its scale”. However, the bulk of the criticism chimes with previous reports on public sector procurement from a range of bodies, including the National Audit Office’s pan public sector review, published in May.
Sir Philip, right, catalogued a raft of examples of poor management including basic commodities being bought at significantly different prices by different departments; expensive IT services being contracted for too long with no flexibility and items being purchased for significantly more than the market rate.
Reasons for such inefficiency include poor data, departments working in silos, a lack of motivation to save money and inconsistent skills across different departments.
“Data is inconsistent and hard to get at, making it impossible to buy efficiently. Central government data is dependent upon each department submitting a manually produced return, or asking suppliers to provide cross government data.
“The quality of data provided by departments is inconsistent -there needs to be a central mandate to provide accurate and timely data.”