Letter: Buying for Britain

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I am not sure whether to sigh with relief or frustration at the announcement of the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) proposals (Business, 8 July).

As a former administrative government servant (1959-1991), I well remember during the 1960s and 1970s serving the Procurement Policy Committee (PPC) - Treasury-led with members of all government departments with a procurement function.

Government procurement policy and procedures were standardised for the benefit of departments and industry alike, with whom we all dealt. A common approach was more than sensible in that all those with a procurement role had a responsibility for public accountability. Sadly, with the proliferation of privatisation and the setting up of agencies, maybe the emphasis on being seen to be accountable via a common set of standards had changed.

Hopefully the OGC, if it is indeed created, will not ignore what the PPC achieved and will give a dusting-off to the earlier papers. I am sure that Sir Leo Pliatsky (whose obituary appeared in your pages a short time ago) would turn more comfortably in his grave if he knew that the procurement wheel was not being totally re-invented.

BERNARD MARTIN

Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire

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