Magazine article Public Finance

Procurement Chief Finds 'Room for Improvement in Schools'

Magazine article Public Finance

Procurement Chief Finds 'Room for Improvement in Schools'

Article excerpt

Schools and colleges are not doing enough to ensure that they purchase everything from photocopiers to supply teachers cost-effectively, according to the man heading education's procurement efficiency drive.

Paul Neill, interim director of the Department for Education and Skills' new Centre for Procurement Performance, told Public Finance that although there were pockets of good practice across the schools' sector, there was 'undoubtedly room for improvement'.

The DfES is charged with finding £4.3bn in annual efficiency gains by 2007/08. Of this, approximately £1.5bn is to come from procurement savings, with schools, colleges, universities and local education authorities all expected to play their part.

According to Neill, this target is achievable. 'There's lots of scope out there to improve procurement. There's huge potential in further education and in schools,' he said.

The CPP, which begins work on April 1, will aim to steer schools and colleges towards the best procurement opportunities, working closely with the Office of Government Commerce and, where possible, 'piggybacking' on to deals negotiated by them.

The current state of schools' procurement presented a 'mixed picture', Neill said, with some schools failing to take advantage of deals available to them.

School insurance, supply teaching, information and communications technology, utilities and stationery have all been identified as areas where significant procurement savings can be made.

Neill said the CPP would adopt a 'mix and match' approach to helping schools out. …

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