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Tests sought to assess officers handling contracts

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Local authorities want to roll out assessments to test procurement officers’ abilities to handle public sector contracts, LGC’s sister title Construction News has learned.

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cn lgc combined

Graeme Swan, head of the government advisory division at consultancy firm EY, said councils would be keen to follow central government by testing procurement skill levels.

All Whitehall civil servants with procurement responsibilities will be assessed on their procurement abilities by this summer.

Assessments include: whether officials are using the right frameworks; whether there is enough competition for a contract; how to ensure enough competition for a contract; and how to justify single sourcing.

Civil servants are being graded ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘C’ after taking a series of tests on procurement scenarios.

Those scoring A grades will to be moved to the government commercial function board to take on complex procurement projects. They will then be seconded back to the department from which they originally came.

Those scoring B grades will have to undergo more training, while those scoring C will no longer work in commercials roles.

So far, procurement assessments have not been rolled out to the wider public sector.

But Mr Swan, who was involved in the programme, said local authorities would “like to take this forward”.

He added: “The issue of local government has been raised and it’s a question of scale – this doesn’t just apply to local governments but health sector projects and devolved governments of Scotland and Wales.”

Mr Swan added he was “sceptical” whether local authorities could act as one body in assessing officials.

He also added that EY was looking to take the procurement assessments to its private sector clients.

“I’ve been looking at this course and assessments for the private sector and whether we could take this to some of our clients who do big procurements,” said Mr Swan.

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