Welsh public bodies ‘need to improve procurement performance’

18 Oct 17

Welsh public bodies need to improve their procurement of goods and services to ensure the £6bn spent annually achieves value for money.

A report from Wales Audit Office, out yesterday, argued the country’s public bodies faced challenges in balancing potentially competing procurement priorities, responding to new policy, legislation and technology, and in the recruitment and retention of key personnel.

It stated the national procurement board currently has limited effectiveness and the national governance arrangements could be strengthened.

Huw Vaughan Thomas, auditor general, said: “Procurement is one of the key ways in which public bodies need to be able to demonstrate that they are securing value for money.

“Our findings are clear: while public bodies face a range of challenges in a changing procurement landscape, they can do more to strengthen their procurement arrangements and recent examples highlight the financial and reputational risks of getting procurement wrong.”

The watchdog notes that of the £6bn spent through procurement in 2015/16, £880m was through collaborative procurement managed by the three main Wales-based consortia and public buying organisations.

While these organisations were reporting financial savings and other benefits, public bodies have mixed views on their effectiveness, according to the audit office.

The report also highlighted clear scope for improvement in procurement arrangements at a local level.

The report stated: “Public bodies have experienced several notable procurement failures and our audit work continues to identify examples of other weaknesses.”

Issues around recruitment and retention of qualified procurement personnel, better use of technology were also highlighted as areas of concern in the report.

Among the recommendations laid out in the report were calls for public bodies to join the national procurement board, which the Welsh Government plans to merge with the national procurement service board.

The audit office also wanted a regular review by public bodies of their procurement strategies and polices to ensure that these stay up to date with the changing landscape.

It is also called for the Welsh Government to explore the impact of differential pay for procurement staff across different sectors and any potential solutions.

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