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Local government procurement leaders plan for success

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Third annual event supports a collaborative approach to procurement reform.

Scotland Excel hosted the local authority procurement community Annual Review in Stirling on 23-24 January. This two-day event brings together procurement leaders from across local government to share experiences and plan a collaborative programme of improvement activity.

The event included presentations from two key figures in public procurement. Alastair Merrill, Director of the Scottish Government's Procurement and Commercial Directorate, spoke to delegates about the increasing profile of public procurement, and the themes shaping the development of a new Sustainable Procurement Bill.

John F McClelland CBE, whose review of public procurement established the Public Procurement Reform Programme in 2006, shared his thoughts on the progress made in the years since its launch. He also spoke about the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead for public procurement and, in particular, those arising from his more recent review of public sector IT management.

Delegates also welcomed representatives from the Ready for Business  consortium which will deliver the Scottish Government's Developing Markets for Third Sector Providers programme. This initiative aims to raise awareness and promote the benefits of working in partnership with the third sector, and will engage with local authorities through Scotland Excel.

In addition to guest speakers, the event also featured case studies from colleagues at Inverclyde, Perth, West Lothian, Renfrewshire, East Ayrshire, Glasgow and South Ayrshire who shared their experiences of information management, contract management, supplier management and transformational change.

The event also provided an opportunity to introduce the latest member of Scotland Excel's procurement reform team, Anne Lyndon, who presented a view of category management based on her experience with pharmaceutical company Astra Zenica.

The Annual Review forms part of a collaborative programme that runs throughout the year to improve procurement performance, including an annual Procurement Capability Assessment (PCA). These assessments are used throughout the public sector to provide a benchmark of procurement practice and identify areas for improvement.

Since the launch of the assessments in 2009, the local government sector has achieved measurable progress through the improvement programme, which is developed and managed in partnership with Scotland Excel.  Improvement priorities for 2012-13 have been agreed, and a programme of activities is currently in development.