Select Committee on Treasury Third Report


The Treasury Committee has agreed to the following Report:



The Treasury Committee established a Sub-committee in July 2001 to scrutinise the work of the various bodies for which Treasury Ministers are accountable. The Sub-committee announced, in October 2001, an inquiry into the Office of Government Commerce. We heard oral evidence from Mr Peter Gershon, the Chief Executive of the Office of Government Commerce on 7 November 2001, from British Telecommunications plc and the British Chambers of Commerce on 16 January 2002, and from the Department of Health and the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions on 23 January 2002. We also received a number of written submissions, most of which we have published with this volume. We are grateful for all the evidence we received, written and oral.

The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) was created following the completion of a review of civil procurement in central Government in 1999 by Mr Peter Gershon, who was then the Managing Director of Marconi Electronic Systems and a member of the Board of GEC plc. The review found that different Departments applied different approaches and practices to the procurement of essentially similar requirements. This lack of consistency meant that there was a wide gap between best and worst practice in Government. The review identified a number of weaknesses in Government procurement, concerning organisation, process, people and skills, measurement, and the contribution of the "centre" of Government. To deal with these weaknesses, the review called for the creation of a unified procurement organisation with the aim of providing a greater sense of direction in procurement and to push best practice in central civil Government.[1]

The OGC was established in April 2000 with the appointment of Mr Peter Gershon as Chief Executive and the bringing together of the former Treasury units concerned with procurement policy, practice and development with the Property Advisers to the Civil Estate; the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency; and the Buying Agency, three former Cabinet Office agencies.[2] We have focussed our inquiry on the OGC's role and work and the progress being made in modernising Government procurement practice.

1   Ev 1, paras 2.1-2.4 Back

2   Ev 2, Ev 3, para 2.7 Back

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Prepared 23 May 2002