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Business

Fix for 'bonkers' IT buying will save taxpayer £3bn

Whitehall ushers in new strategy of paying one price for purchases, regardless of department...
Written by Nick Heath, Contributor on

Whitehall ushers in new strategy of paying one price for purchases, regardless of department...

IT buying Westminster

The government is reforming the way it buys widely used goods and services in WhitehallPhoto: Shutterstock

The government has promised to fix the "bonkers" procurement practices that led to some departments paying more than £1,000 over the odds for every laptop they bought.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has announced the government is changing the way it buys goods and services that are used across Whitehall - such as IT equipment, stationery and office services.

It follows a report by Sir Philip Green last year, which found wild variations in prices paid by different government departments and agencies for the same goods and services.

The report said different departments were paying between £350 and £2,000 for the same laptop and between £85 and £240 for the same printer cartridge - expenditure that Prime Minister David Cameron later described as "crazy".

Under the changes set out by Maude, a single body will purchase widely used goods and services for all central government and agencies, ending the practice of different departments paying varying prices.

The government procured £66bn of goods and services in 2009-10, and the government said the changes to buying practices should save £3bn a year by 2015.

Maude said in a statement: "It is bonkers for different parts of government to be paying vastly different prices for exactly the same goods. We are putting a stop to this madness which has been presided over for too long.

"Until recently, there wasn't even any proper central data on procurement spending. The establishment of government procurement means the days when there was no strategy and no coherence to the way the government bought goods and services are well and truly at an end."

The single procurement body has already begun to tender for goods and services for government and by autumn will handle the procurement of all widely used goods and services in Whitehall.

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