The future delivery of public services

Interesting to hear the government lay down the gauntlet to facilities management service providers on Monday at the annual Business Services Association lecture. Francis Maude MP, minister for the Cabinet Office, warned them that large businesses might no longer be the chosen way forward for government outsourcing. To improve the value proposition for the delivery of public services, he wants small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), together with charities, voluntary organisations, employee mutuals and civil societies to get a slice of the government’s procurement cake.

But the government can’t have its cake and eat it. SMEs and others will only be keen to get involved when the procurement process is less needlessly bureaucratic, doesn’t cost so much (Maude himself recognised that it costs four times as much to bid for public sector contracts as it does for those in the private sector) and doesn’t take so long.

Yes the government have taken measures to make it easier for SMEs to get involved but the reality is still that only the big businesses have the resources to bid for the big deals. Maude urged the big outsources to tell him personally (though he didn’t give us his direct line) if the procurement process remained exasperating and impenetrable despite these measures. Trouble is, most FM service providers might be too knee-deep in bid preparations to drop him a line.

Read the full event report at


Cathy Hayward

1 thought on “The future delivery of public services”

  1. The “All change for Whitehall procurement?” article was good. All the way through, I found myself shaking my head wondering why this country deserves 3 political parties that clearly have so many people out of touch with reality.

    Former Construction Minister, Nick Raynsford, whom I heard talk sense at The City University (my alma mater) a few years ago, remarked that Government was just as fragmented as the construction industry and consolidation of both was needed. He was about to become Chairman of the Construction Industry Council.

    The car and aircraft industries consolidated decades ago and I believe that needs to happen in our industry. Perhaps, John Lewis / Waitrose should branch out into FM, if we follow Maude’s recipe. About 4 or 5 years ago, I wrote to Edward Leigh, then chairman of the Parliamentary Accounts Committee, to say that Government was not seen as a good client and was not attracting the best. No response, though.

    Frankly, I don’t know what Big Society is. However, I do know trying to get local authorities to deliver, at least in London, needs an extraordinary amount of patience and persistence.

    I really cannot see Maude’s ideas working. It was tried in the early days after the demise of DOE PSA, when Government departments went to tradesmen in Yellow Pages and ended up spending too much time managing a large number of suppliers of variable quality.

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