Public sector focus: Time to profit with not-for-profits

05 February 2016
Public sector focus: Time to profit with not-for-profits

The new EU procurement directives will makes processes simpler for both buyers and suppliers, says Mike Haslin, chief operations officer of the University Caterers Organisation (TUCO)

Buying better practice will always be top of the priority list for the public sector. Constant cuts to budgets means procurement professionals have to be ever smarter with the money they have, while continually delivering high-quality services. It's a bit of a ‘rock and hard place' situation, really.

But help is coming, finally, with the new EU procurement directives, which come into play this year. The new rules signal a wave of change and will make the public sector procurement process simpler, faster and more effective for both buyers and supplier.

It also represents a real chance to make meaningful savings; through the collective power of TUCO spending, our members save over £11m a year altogether. We pass any saving we negotiate straight back to those using our frameworks. The new changes will make it easier for other NfPs to win contracts and do the same in all areas of the public sector. After years of being beholden to outdated laws protecting private sector companies who fail to deliver on contracts promised, the new rules are supporting the commitment to better buying by also allowing the public sector to exclude suppliers with a poor management history. Departments will no longer be stuck with diffident suppliers as the only option - a great relief to many.

There is much to be said in praise of the new laws: they re-define procurement to make it easier to pick new suppliers, offer more control to the buyer and align to UK buying standards in ways that will help to meet compliance, and these are all very positive changes. The public sector has suffered for a long time from a lack of innovation in the rules, with just a few organisations such as TUCO driving change and modernisation. It represents a real opportunity to take control of buying and drive cost savings which can be passed back to customers, or indeed spent in other ways which can make a difference to an overall operation.

And, like TUCO's frameworks, the changes also bring the possibility of a public sector working as a whole to yield an immense purchasing power; and for in-house caterers there is real opportunity to drive best practice and make great savings.

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