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Crown Commercial Service: three key questions

The Guardian - Will the creation of the Crown Commercial Service radically reshape the management of public sector procurement?

The Public Administration Select Committee's (Pasc) report on 19 July stated that "the government had failed to set out a clear strategy for public procurement and that there remained a lack of clarity about the government's longer term policy for the consolidation of (central) government and wider public sector procurement."

Next thing minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude, who has responsibility for driving the Whitehall efficiency agenda including procurement, commissioned a quick review by McKinsey, to examine the case for creating a 'Crown Commercial Service'. McKinsey conclusively decided in favour and the creation of the CCS as a public sector agency was announced on 24 July.

Both Maude and head of government procurement, Bill Crothers, when pressed by Pasc chair Bernard Jenkin concurred with the creation of such an organisation. It is now to become a reality. However, key questions remain as to its capacity for change and influence.

....The proposed 'complex transactions team' in the CCS will initially provide professional expertise for IT contracts and gradually take over responsibility. Departments will retain responsibility for departmental related specialist procurements, but already one can foresee a gradual shifting of definitions. For example, offender tagging is a specialist departmental initiative, but it is also an IT one. If the CCS is seen to be successful, we will see a pretty quick migration of procurement responsibilities to it.