Mark Bramah and myself run a 90 minute slot on Commissioning for a group of 20 or so future local government political leaders on Saturday afternoon in Manchester. They appear to enjoy it and their interaction makes things more energising for Mark and myself rather than just lecturing them with APSE's position.
We push our view that Commissioning is about analysing where you are now, assessing future needs, examining current provision, identifying gaps and only then considering whether you need a procurement process or not. Local politicians need to take control of this agenda or a real danger exists that they will be railroaded into courses of action that place the local authority in a straight jacket which will be irreversibly locked for the long term.
The prevailing mood of the audience suggests that local authorities and local politicians are going to play a major role in helping communities through the recession. More and more it becomes obvious that the recovery will only occur by investment in public works finding its way into local supply chains and by people spending money in their local economies. If they don’t then the future will be grim for some communities. The trend of the last few years for public bodies to procure on a grand scale and not really worry too much about where the revenue is spent, where the supply chain is located and where the employment exists is looking a bit naive now. An over emphasis on cost has left a lot of people looking short sighted. It reminds me of the famous Oscar Wilde quote about “some knowing the cost of everything and the value of nothing.”