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back to article UK gov 'still failing' at procurement, says Commons committee

Systemic failures in government procurement and contract management continue "unabated" three years after the coalition vowed to tackle inefficiencies in the way public sector people buy tech. This is according to the House of Commons' Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) led by Bernard Jenkins MP (Con), which conceded …


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I wonder where they procured their advice on procurement best practice?

Getting advice from lobbyists is always going to lead to the need for more lobbyists.


Over the years, I've seen a number of examples of the bureacracy involved in procurement; and it still seems that there are a significant number of people who are blocking any attempt to improve the processes. Mostly, this is because they know that if ithese were stream lined, they would most likely be out of a job; so you can't blame them too much for protecting their own interests.

Not that I'm defending them; I've seen a recent example of a failure in the process where the intial quote of £360 has ballooned into a purchase order that will exceed £6000. They will argue that the process is there to do various things, all of which should be good, but the end result is that they spend more money to get less; and that is a complete failure by any measure. This is not an isolated incident and over spend runs into billions with a "b".

Quite simply, no-one will lose out by maintaining the status quo; but they will if the processes change. Therefore they will defend their position to the death.


'Mostly, this is because they know that if ithese were stream lined, they would most likely be out of a job; so you can't blame them too much for protecting their own interests.'

Question: Why would somebody do something that they strongly believe will result in their job loss?


@Anonymous Coward 101

"Question: Why would somebody do something that they strongly believe will result in their job loss?"

Because it is the right thing to do? Because there is a net gain to society even if a loss to you?

But if you wish to hold to a purely selfish position, because people who do more successfully streamline the process, if correctly assessed, are *more* likely to keep their job while the failures lose theirs.

Also I've noticed in my current and prior job as a contractor that the faster and more effectively I get things done the more value I bring to a company and the more secure my position (my placement was and is extended).

BTW I do practice what I preach - there are certain extremely profitable segments of industry I have deliberately chosen never to work in (and been accused of stupidity for it, but I then again have a conscience).



I'd just like to state categorically that failures in the Givernment's procurement strategy are NOT the result of Climate Change.

Thank You



...all the hot air generated by the procurement process, all the hot air generated discussing the procurement process - causing climate change but not changing the climate


Title too long...

You could have just stopped at "UK gov still failing" but most people realise that anyway...

Anonymous Coward

The government let the NHS Microsoft deal lapse and as a result each NHS site (hospital, CCG etc) now has to have Microsoft audit their licences individually and produce a quote for any future upgrades.

For the next version of SQL Server some have had quotes exceeding £1M due to changes in the licence model.

The whole cost of the "organisation licence" was only £80M and that was a bargain compared to what they are probably spending now.

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"lack…understanding" on how to collate their requirements, measure suppliers attributes, etc.."

So senior civil servants still don't give a f**k. It's just something for the procurement gimps to sort out.

But looking on the bright side 180 days --> 153 sounds like a (slight) improvement.

But even the French could do it in 120?

Funny I thought some of these "procurements" could take years to get the wrong thing delivered and installed.

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Re: "lack…understanding" on how to collate their requirements, measure suppliers attributes, etc.."

Never underestimate the lubrication power of goodies "falling off" a delivery truck.

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It's tax payer's money...

"Ah! Jenkins, come in, take a seat"

"Thank you sir"

"Now I've called you in today to discuss your latest project"

"It's going very well sir"

"Yes, yes....yes, it does appear that way at first glance, but you are missing the big picture"

"Sorry sir, I don't understand, the original budget was five billion and I've cut that to two with a thirty percent improvement on...."

"Jenkins, Jenkins.....Jenkins, that's all very well, but you are undermining my position with your reckless and unthinking actions. I am the Right Honourable Chief Clacker for Fiddly Things, a very illustrious position, a position that is made more illustrious by the fact my department consumes almost the entire tax receipts of the nation, leaving sod all for the other pesky wannabes to challenge my budget wielding power...and you! you, are threatening that very power base, with these Commie pinko ideologies."

"Sir, I must protest, I acted in the best interest of the department, we were challenged to save money and that's exactly what I did, you yourself issued a memo to such an effect three months ago."

"Just what on Earth do you think the money you saved will be spent on Jenkins? I'll tell you, aggrandising someone else's department, that's what, a direct attack on my departments number one status and that is a personal attack on me and my standing."

", how should I have dealt with this sir"

"You do it the way we have always done it, let costs rise and ask for more money, when that isn't forthcoming we have carte blanche to deliver the crappiest outcome while blaming the treasury for short sighted penny pinching."

"I'll get right on it, sir"

"By the way Jenkins, how are the sharks coming along?"

"We have fitted the lasers sir, but they're still reluctant to swim up the Thames"

"At least we still have the pigeon guided missiles"

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