What is the challenge? Councils need to consider whether they are making use of the best available models for joint working on procurement.
By working together on procurement and on contract and supplier management councils and their public sector partners can make best use of commercial skills, benefit from economies of scale, achieve efficiencies in the use of resources and realise savings.
A lot has been achieved already. But councils need to review their use of joint procurement models including:
- Shared management and shared services models for procurement (for examples, see the Local Government Shared Services Map).
- Occasional joint procurement projects e.g. for waste management.
In any model, the keys to success are joint planning (across council departments and across authorities and other public sector organisations), including early stakeholder and user involvement, and a joint approach to market engagement. This can then inform a joint procurement strategy as part of the business case for the procurement.
Traditionally, much collaborative activity has been focused on the buying of ‘commodities' (commonly-used goods and services). The challenge for the future is for councils and others to work together to a greater extent on strategic requirements including infrastructure projects, back office functions and social care (for example, a national procurement strategy for social care is being developed as part of the National Procurement Strategy).
The establishment of combined authorities together with the devolution of further responsibilities to the local level and the continuing integration of services (including health and social care) provides a further opportunity to consider city-region and county-region models for procurement including the joint commissioning of major projects in the region (see What are our options for major projects?).
How can we use the PCR 2015?
Choose the best model for joint working on procurement
The PCR 2015 are clear about the importance of public authorities working together on procurement and they enable the full range of models for joint working to be used.
Councils and other contracting authorities can -
- buy goods and services directly from a ‘central purchasing body'. (CPB), and/or
- buy goods, works and services through contracts, framework agreements and ‘dynamic purchasing systems' (see electronic procurement) set up by a CPB.
CPBs are authorities that carry out centralised purchasing on a permanent basis. The PCR 2015 also clarify roles and responsibilities where authorities undertake ‘occasional joint procurement' and where authorities in different countries work together on international procurement.