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Wed September 30 2020

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Maude to put £50bn of government contracts online

21 Nov 11 Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude is to revamp public procurement with the aim of encouraging more British firms to bid for lucrative public sector contracts.

A package of "radical reforms" aims to stimulate growth by ending Whitehall's often "short-sighted and risk averse approach" to awarding major deals for state goods and services.

The plans include publishing £50bn of contracts online, making it 40% faster to do business with Whitehall, and flagging up potential opportunities with companies earlier.

Government will have an "open door" policy with suppliers to discuss future contracts, and departments will be encouraged to break up some major contracts to make it easier for small and medium sized enterprises to bid for the work.

All but the most complex procurement processes must be finished within four months from January next year, compared to an average of more than seven months now.

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Maude plans to create a commissioning academy to dispel any myths that have built up around procurement and train public sector commissioners in how to be "confident and courageous" when awarding contracts.

He will also travel to Brussels on Monday to press for EU rules over government procurement to be simplified.

The Cabinet Office minister said: "We need to make things better for business in the UK - the current system isn't working. UK-based suppliers are finding themselves excluded, opportunities for growth are missed due to the public sector's timidity and carrying out a procurement in the UK costs over twice as much as in France. This is wrong from every point of view.

"While other countries manage to settle down and develop long-term relationships with business - this country appears to have taken a rather less successful overly formal and legalistic approach, failing to think beyond the immediate contract and failing to adequately support our businesses. We look forward to working with businesses on our new approach."

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