Government body the Regional Centres of Excellence (RCE) has hinted that its number of approved suppliers may be cut, following the creation of think tanks designed to increase procurement effectiveness.
The RCE plans to create up to six Procurement Action Groups (PAGs), each comprised of executives from existing government bodies, such as Catalist. Each will have its own focus, such as IT or telecoms, and will prepare ‘how to’ guides for local councils on subjects such as obtaining the best procurement deals.
Confusion has surrounded Catalist since the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) announced the list of successful suppliers back in February (CRN, 20 February). It has expanded the list – which includes VARs, distributors and vendors – three times (CRN, 6 March) and has constantly shifted the goalposts (CRN, 5 June).
Nicol Thornton, associate director for national procurement programmes at the RCE, told CRN that it plans to create between four and five PAGs by the end of September.
“Approved suppliers could be reduced, but suppliers will always be consulted in spin-off discussions on the proposed changes,” he said.
“Ultimately, the decision to make a change in purchasing rests with each individual council.”
Thornton declined to elaborate on what level of savings could be expected from the creation and resulting advice of each PAG.
Steve Holland, director of the National Procurement Programme, said: “The programme will ensure that we fully engage the procurement community in local government.”
Pete Mistry, technical sales consultant at VAR Eclipse Group, told CRN that the creation of PAGs may result in more red tape.
“If it does reduce the number of suppliers then it may reduce the level of competitiveness and mean local governments don’t get the best deal,” he said. “If it does reduce procurement costs then great, but I would be sceptical. However, this could ultimately have a bad impact on approved suppliers if their numbers are cut down.”
Dan Hitchin, business manager at VAR Basilica, told CRN: “The government is trying to come up with frameworks for improving support from suppliers and for driving down costs. Approved suppliers could be worried by this announcement.”
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