Who created the chaos in government purchasing?

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I loved this letter in the Guardian today:

I was interested to read Philip Green's proposals for "more centralised procurement" by government (Report, 11 October). In 1989 I became the last director of the Crown Suppliers; my task was to close it down. This was an organisation that carried out many of the very activities which Green now identifies as best done centrally. The Crown Suppliers bought or commissioned the purchase of furniture, office equipment, floor coverings and related goods for all government departments. Many of the products were of standard designs so as to achieve increased economy of scale. When the Crown Suppliers was closed, responsibility for these matters was devolved to individual departments. There may have been some co-operation between departments subsequently, but clearly Green feels there is much still to be gained.

In parallel, there was an organisation, the Property Services Agency, which provided buildings for government use either by renting facilities or commissioning new build. It was also responsible for maintenance. In both organisations there were professional staff to secure best outcomes, balancing first costs, costs in use, and durability. Both organisations, under many different titles, have worthy histories. Plus ?ßa change.

Robert Gomme


So who was it who created the current mess in government purchasing? The Tories! And why? No doubt to boost private sector profits.