Abstracts: September 8th, 2005

This first report on practice identifies a mixed picture in the progress of local authorities towards more efficient and effective procurement mechanisms in the pursuit of delivering better services to citizens. There has been progress in many areas, particularly those where there are clear policy drivers for improving procurement performance. In other aspects of procurement, local authorities still have opportunities to make real improvements, because the majority of councils are not rigorously challenging the current pattern of services, effectively comparing their performance, or fully utilising competitive procurement practices.The National Procurement Strategy for Local Government provides a set of policy arguments and targets for better local government procurement. Over 90% of respondents consider the Strategy ‘important’ or ‘very important’. Respondents also recognise the role of the Regional Centres of Excellence in assisting them meet the Strategy milestones. The survey indicates that progress towards meeting the milestones varies between local authorities and between types of authority.

Strong political and senior management leadership is an important factor in securing improvement and most local authorities report that their strategies are owned by political and managerial leaders. Some 56% of councils have designated a council member as a procurement champion on the executive/cabinet. Almost 80% of councils have designated an officer procurement champion on the corporate management team. The survey also explored the issue of local authorities’ commitment to planning and to resourcing procurement and found over three-quarters of respondents thought their authorities were ‘fairly’ or ‘strongly’ committed to supporting good procurement practice.

The survey is available at: http://www.info4local.gov.uk/searchreport.asp?id=25710&heading=e-mail+alert