PAC calls for more action on improving CCS performance

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has advised that the government can make substantial savings from buying common goods and services centrally, but that the results of the its latest attempt to do so have been ‘disappointing’.

In the report, PAC claimed the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) had failed to consistently deliver quality services to departments, and progress with centralising procurement has been slow. It also highlighted that the government had experienced severe difficulties with the programme to transfer procurement from departments to CCS which was halted twice.

The report cited that CCS is managing £2.5 billion of spend on common goods and services on behalf of seven departments instead of the £13 billion on behalf of all 17 departments as was predicted in 2014.

The Committee has called for action to ensure all departments understand the importance of achieving savings from centralised purchasing ‘and transfer appropriate spending to CCS as soon as practicable’.

Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the PAC, said: "Government really needs to sharpen up if this latest attempt to centralise buying is to function properly. The Crown Commercial Service was set up with the intention of saving public money. But so far it is only managing around a fifth of the spending it expected to and is a long way from achieving its potential.

"This is a dismal showing that calls into question exactly how willing government departments are to accept the authority of the Cabinet Office in this area. Is the case being made for CCS underwhelming, or is the message just not getting through? Is discipline across government too weak?

"There were clearly fundamental problems at the launch of CCS but even now it is unclear exactly how progress will be made during this Parliament and beyond.  Meanwhile the taxpayer is losing out."