Greater transparency of suppliers’ performance, costs and revenues is needed to improve contracting and make better savings for public services, according to a report by the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee.
Government now spends approximately £225 billion a year with private and voluntary providers.
The role of providers in the public sector has evolved from relatively simple contracts to provide goods or established services, to “high profile commissioning arrangements in sensitive public service areas such as health and justice”.
The NAO and the Public Accounts Committee have acknowledged improvements in the government’s management of contracts in recent years. But they say there is much more to be done for government contracting to be effective, meet expected public service standards and provide better value for money for the taxpayer.
The report states that areas for further improvement include: greater transparency of suppliers’ performance, costs and revenues; more effective competition for government business, both reducing over reliance on a small number of single suppliers and encouraging more small‑ and medium-sized enterprises into the market; stronger commercial skills within government when purchasing services, managing contracts and dealing with provider failure.