Procurement Bill [HL]

Written evidence submitted by John Lichnerowicz (PB07)

Written Evidence on the Procurement Bill

For many years I worked for a public utility company in the transportation sector as head of technical architectures for the IT department. I found the EU legislation then in force to be almost frustratingly impenetrable and despite over 35 years’ experience in the industry I found myself often unable to execute my job effectively. We effectively became customers of the Procurement Department following rules which were designed to be mistrustful of the motives of the services or goods requestor and yet often added lead-times and effort into the buying process which more than negated any savings which were made and certainly made it difficult to spend annually allocated budget unless one had a really good handle on future requirements which was sometimes not possible in a field as fast changing as Information Technology.

Additionally overstretched Procurement Departments would lump requirements into a single large procurement which would go to only the biggest companies in their field who would then have the freedom to pick their favourite sub-contractors effectively eliminating the contribution of equally capable sub-contractors and adding a main contractor’s margin into the sub-contractor’s costs for little benefit as even much of the risk is handed down to the sub-contractor.

In my experience Procurement Departments particularly those containing CIPS qualified professionals are extremely overstretched and a bottleneck to public sector organisations being able to deliver their services, in part because the requestors have become disenfranchised and are unable to become fully engaged. As a previous user of buying services I hope that the new Procurement Bill will improve matters. As a current supplier of such services to the public sector I am unsure whether it will improve our chances as an SME for winning work in any practical manner.

Use the Procurement Department when considering large and complex contracts but for off the shelf goods and simple services please give the freedom back to the subject matter experts to do their own unfettered purchasing for the public sector and let internal audit have oversight of these activities.

The test of whether the Procurement Bill has been drafted correctly must surely be to undertake a table top exercise to see what additional savings can be made in the procurement process by both bidders and buying organisations for different types and sizes of procurement by the new rules over those imposed by the EU.

John Lichnerowicz

23 January 2023


Prepared 31st January 2023