A new central commercial service will make government procurement more efficient, it has emerged.

The new Crown Commercial Service, due to launch in the autumn, is intended to cement the government’s “business-like approach” to buying goods and services.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude made the announcement yesterday (July 24th), adding that centralised procurement will maximise the government’s buying power and help to make vital savings.

Working alongside departments and other public sector bodies, the service will look to get the best value for money out of every contract, the Cabinet Office said.

Its remit will cover the whole range of central government procurement, including common goods and services such as energy and professional services. At the same time, it will be expected to work with departments so they can focus their own efforts on their specific strategic needs.

A new Complex Transactions Team will be formed under the umbrella of the Crown Commercial Service, which will work directly with departments on some of their more complicated procurement procedures in order to prevent civil servants needing to turn to external advisers.

In addition, the Cabinet Office says that it is hoping to consolidate commercial leadership in Whitehall and make the Civil Service as a whole more commercially competent. As part of this drive, it is hoped that forming a separate service will strengthen the procurement profession in general throughout government departments.

“The new Crown Commercial Service will ensure a step change in our commercial capability, giving government a much tighter grip on all aspects of its commercial performance, from market engagement through to contract management,” said Mr Maude.

He added that in order to compete internationally, the UK needs to have a commercially aware Civil Service which offers good value for money in the provision of public services.

Bill Crothers, government chief procurement officer, said that the government spends around £45 billion on goods and services, meaning that it has huge buying power to exploit.

He explained that he believes the new service “will ensure we act as a true single customer: buying the essentials for the whole of government in the most efficient way possible, whilst freeing up departments to focus their procurement expertise on what is unique to them.”

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