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TREASURY REPORT DAMNS£1BN WHITEHALL WASTE

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Ministers have been urged to appoint a new supremo, preferably from the private sector, to take charge of governmen...
Ministers have been urged to appoint a new supremo, preferably from the private sector, to take charge of government contracts worth£13bn a year in a damning report on waste in Whitehall, reported Sunday Business (p1).

The secret document recommends creating a new body, the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), to spearhead efforts to save the taxpayer£1 billion during the next three years.

The government's civil procurement review, headed by GEC executive director Peter Gershon, found that hundreds of millions of pounds could be saved from companies who supply Whitehall with everything from paper-clips to office space. The Gershon inquiry was astonished to discover that the treasury and cabinet office had no global figure of the amount committed in contracts or of the names of the main companies involved.

The OGC would also would also be responsible for calculating for the first time the government's exposure in various sectors and which companies on which it is most dependant. Its creation would mean merging many functions carried out by various parts of the treasury and cabinet.

The creation of a body linked with the treasury contrasts with the recommendations of a related government review into the private finance initiative. A report by Pearl Assurance chairman Malcolm Bates urges the government to set up a body independent of the

treasury to advise contractors and government departments of the PFI. Called UK Capital, the body would replace the current PFI taskforce and invest up to£100m of public money a year into public/private partnerships. The taskforce will be wound up this summer

and its chief executive, Adrian Montague, is the front-runner to head UK Capital if it gets off the ground.

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