Headlines: February 16th, 2000

The head of the newly created Office for Government Commerce has been named as Peter Gershon, currently Chief Operating Officer in BAE SYSTEM. He has signed a three year contract at an annual salary of 180,000 pounds. Brian Rigby, currently Director of Procurement at HM Treasury, will be the Deputy Chief Executive.The Office for Government Commerce goes live on 1 April 2000. It will oversee the purchasing activity of some 200 Government departments and agencies employing about 5000 staff on procurement tasks and spending some ?13 billion of taxpayers’ money every year. The new Office will take on the staff of Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA), Property Advisers to the Civil Estate (PACE), The Buying Agency (TBA) together with some procurement staff from HM Treasury, Cabinet Office and Department of Health.

Last year Peter Gershon undertook a review for the UK Government on Civil Procurement. He found weaknesses in Whitehall procurement arrangements and estimated that there is a potential for delivering over ?1 billion of efficiency savings over the next three years while cutting project delays and overruns. He recommended setting up the Office for Government Commerce, which will result in growing centralised purchasing and increasing loss of departmental sovereignty.