BUYING AT THE EDGE

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Local authority procurement, the Outer Hebridean way

Colin Muir, CE of Improvement Service

It’s been a very strategic week up here in Stornoway as decision makers considered the Comhairle’s Corporate Strategy and the forward plan for the Integrated Joint Board.  Procurement really has the opportunity to make a constructive contribution to what’s proposed.

I’m still banging the drum for outcome based commissioning across Comhairle services and had an interesting discussion with Colin Mair from the Improvement Service when he addressed our Corporate Management Team and Heads of Service on Monday, that raised some questions:

What’s your take on the scope for using this approach to help make a significant step change in how we do things?
Is my opinion that there are plenty of opportunities to make this happen a bit too optimistic?
Do you agree with Colin that, given the amount of regulation and prescription we have in local government, the scope is perhaps narrower than we might think?

Supporting local suppliers is at the top of everyone’s agenda in Scotland and up here in the Outer Hebrides we’re no different.  Discussions at the Tuesday’s Policy and Resources Committee and a seminar on the capital programme on Wednesday stressed the need for regeneration in the islands to reverse population decline.

Balancing the impact the public sector spend can have on local businesses against the need to support wider innovation and entrepreneurship to bring new money into the economy is a particularly interesting challenge we have here in the islands.

Making sure we can articulate the impact reductions in Comhairle spend have on particular groups of suppliers is something we need to raise at the budgeting and planning stage rather than waiting for contract renewal times to come around.

Has anyone got examples they can share where they’ve had success in this regard? 
Where and how did you raise these issues?

On Thursday I was part of the consideration of initial thoughts on the strategy for regionalisation within the NHS and whether there’s a role for commissioned health and social care services at this geographic level.  It doesn’t appear to make sense for us in the islands but perhaps it’s more of an issue for those of you in areas with more concentrated population?  Perhaps we’re too early in the process to give this much more than some cursory thought at the moment?

It was good to end the week with some cost analysis of a proposal from a supplier for a price increase.  All that strategic talk can make a procurement pro a bit dizzy.. it’s good to get back to basics!

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