Abstracts: December 16th, 2003

This report from the Cabinet Office on reducing bureaucracy in central government procurement sets out the barriers that lead to inefficiency and what can be done to overcome them. The barriers are common across public services and the remedies are applicable to all public bodies.Long procurement timescales slow down the delivery of projects and increase costs. Timescales can be reduced by improving professionalism and creating streamlined and consistent processes. Better delivery is hampered by a lack of professionalism. There needs to be an improvement in the skills of staff in the commercial role and in decision-making. Action is needed to improve the commercial skills of senior civil servants and the professionalism of project teams.

Staff are over cautious in engaging with suppliers and sharing information with them. This results in misunderstanding and wasted effort and reduced competition. Poor communication results in duplicated work and slows down the improvement cycle. Action is needed to improve communication and understanding of the markets as well as to share information and lessons learnt.

Civil servants concentrate more on due observance of processes, rather than the outcomes they are seeking to achieve. This leads to unnecessary bureaucracy and missed opportunities for capturing innovation. Action is needed to ensure that decision-makers place more emphasis on achieving outcomes, and to ensure that the more creative and innovative solutions that the market can bring are not missed.

Published by the Cabinet Office. Available at: http://www.cabinet-office.gov.uk/regulation/PublicSector/CCGP_summary_text.pdf