Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has been slammed by a government report as "the latest failure" in the Cabinet Office's attempts to centralise procurement.
A review from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) - a government Select Committee tasked with monitoring the government's public sector spending - claims that CCS is supposed to be managing around £13bn of spending, but is in fact only currently responsible for £2.5bn.
The PAC traced the roots of CCS' problems back to its inception in 2014, claiming its launch was "poorly" executed.
Labour MP Meg Hillier, who chairs the PAC, slammed CCS for its "dismal" performance over the last three years.
"Government really needs to sharpen up if this latest attempt to centralise buying is to function properly," she said.
"This is a dismal showing that calls into question exactly how willing government departments are to accept the authority of the Cabinet Office in this area.
"There were clearly fundamental problems at the launch of CCS but even now it is unclear exactly how progress will be made during this Parliament and beyond. Meanwhile the taxpayer is losing out."
The report found that CCS' management of procurement frameworks "remains unsatisfactory", and claimed that its current structure makes it "confusing, blurs accountability and reduces clarity of the purpose" of CCS.
It also reported that CCS has failed to renew or replace all frameworks before their final expiry dates and before all extension options were used, and claimed that its frameworks do not always offer competitive pricing.
"CCS could not show that its framework deals were always the best available," the report stated. "Aside from lacking complete and consistent information on its frameworks, CCS did not consistently benchmark its frameworks against other deals in the market.
"CCS told us it had remedied the database issue since the summer and that it had improved its management of frameworks.
"However, when we asked CCS about benchmarking prices, it told us that it did not collect information on the prices on contracts and that how it really knew whether it was competitive was through ‘those call-offs and those contracts which are done underneath the frameworks'."
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