Cabinet Office spurns opportunity to rein in procurement costs

By Derek du Preez
13 Apr 2011 View Comments
The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben

The Cabinet Office has turned down an offer to have public sector procurement expenditure data aggregated from all major central departments for free.

The offer came from Rosslyn Analytics and business intelligence company QlikTech at the end of March.

Further reading

The two companies requested central government departments send their spend data in a standard format via a secure FTP web site.

Rosslyn claimed that HM Treasury would then be able to see all departments' spend as of 1 May.

"[The government] should be developing better information so that the public and analysts within the public sector are better able to understand where money is going," said Matthew Sinclair, director of the TaxPayers' Alliance, commenting on the announcement from Rosslyn.

"The work Rosslyn Analytics did with the COINS database, which so many organisations found very difficult to work with effectively, was very impressive," he added.

Earlier this year Rosslyn developed Combined Online Information System (COINS), which is a similar government expenditure database.

"Their offer to develop a comprehensive analytical tool for public spending was ambitious and potentially very valuable, and they were staking a lot in delivering it," said Sinclair.

According to Rosslyn, John Collington, head of procurement in the Cabinet Office's Efficiency and Reform Group (ERG), cited three reasons for declining the offer:

• The Cabinet Office did not want to ask departments to provide their data in a standard template to Rosslyn Analytics

• It did not believe that Rosslyn Analytics and QlikTech could deliver what they proposed within the one-month timeframe

• The Cabinet Office has already decided to build a data warehouse that will serve as a central repository of department spending data.

"The Cabinet Office's rejection of our offer to finally centralise the government's procurement data for free beggars belief," said Charles Clark, chief executive of Rosslyn Analytics.

"The lack of an aggregated view of departmental spend undermines the credibility of ministers who are asking taxpayers to bear the brunt of deficit reduction efforts while they spend millions on out-dated technologies and consultants that won't deliver savings," he added.

The companies say that in making the offer, their reputation was at stake to deliver on time, so the offer would not have been made if this was not possible.

The Cabinet Office was not available for comment at the time of writing.

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