Public Procurement


Public Procurement – The Rest is Politics

By Mark Hubbard |

The Rest is Politics is the leading podcast in the UK, led by Alistair Campbell and Rory Stewart. The 30th January release features an interview with Alan Milburn, ex Minister for Health responsible for much of the decentralisation in the NHS.

Within the podcast, he talks about the challenges of ensuring commercial competence in Government and NHS procurement, and the imbalance between experienced commercial and sales professionals in suppliers and the government buying organisation they face into.

Our broader experience is that the challenge facing public procurement is partially about experience. However, there is a strong element of ensuring close alignment between internal stakeholders before any tenders take place and enabling high quality contract and supplier management post contract. Agreeing what we want then making sure we get it seems fundamental to most purchasing and no less so in public sector.

Milburn illustrated the primary driver for the decentralisation efforts in the NHS, driven by the challenges of getting any effective central control to work. However, the unintended consequence is a lot of duplication and waste within commercial processes. 

Public Sector Procurement challenge

The challenge in this huge public sector procurement environment is getting the balance between the minimisation of duplication and the minimisation of imposed control. Although this sounds unlikely, high levels of transparency, sharing of knowledge and understanding where knowledge holders are all help achieve this unlikely balance. 

It’s well worth listening to the podcast to get more insight on the challenges facing public sector commercial organisations, and the context for decentralisation, as both can illuminate our thoughts.

The Rest is Politics / Leadership / Alan Milburn

Further reading:

Blog post: Procurement Can Save The NHS | Future Purchasing

Blog post: Procurement Supplier Management

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