Government procurement of IT and other products and services is now the responsibility of the Cabinet Office, the coalition government has announced.
The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) — the government's procurement watchdog — and its public-sector procurement agency Buying Solutions are now part of the Efficiency and Reform Group (ERG). This moves IT procurement under the auspices of the Cabinet Office rather than the Treasury, as had been the case.
The purpose of the move is to give a single body responsibility for all cross-governmental operational functions, such as procurement, IT, project management and civil service functions, the coalition said on Tuesday.
"The changes I am announcing today will bring together our operational capability to form a single strong but streamlined group to drive efficiency across government," Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said in a statement.
The OGC, which said in its annual report in December that it had made record savings of £196.7m, is responsible for making collaborative deals with suppliers such as Microsoft.
The ERG will be run by three "business leaders": Tate & Lyle chairman Sir Peter Gershon; Tesco executive director Lucy Neville-Rolfe; and Martin Read, a non-executive director of Invensys, Aegis and Lloyd's of London.
In the run-up to the general election, Gershon and Read advised the Conservative Party on public-sector efficiency, concluding that £12bn in savings could be made. Gershon was also, as head of the OGC in the early noughties, the creator of strict new checks on government IT procurement.
"Whilst tackling the budget deficit is a challenge, I am convinced that by bringing experts together and harnessing the talents of the public sector we can start to make improvements immediately," Gershon said in the statement. "We will need to be creative and innovative in order to make a real difference and look at new ways of working."