Public Accounts Committee - Improving Procurement in FE Colleges.pdf
The 2004 Gershon Efficiency Review1 proposed procurement as one of the main sources of
efficiency savings in the public sector. The Learning and Skills Council, which funds
England’s 384 further education colleges, estimates that from an annual procurement
expenditure of £1.6 billion, colleges could make savings of £75 million by March 2008.
The savings made by colleges would be available to be redeployed into front-line services
for learners. Until recently, many colleges have tended to treat procurement as a low
priority and have not taken advantage of modern procurement methods such as
purchasing consortia and procurement cards. They now need to modernise their systems
so as to maximise the resources available for learning.
Colleges increasingly have staff who are capable of managing procurement, but they are
too often let down by the low quality of the systems and the management information
available to them. For example, some college systems cannot easily generate simple
analyses that would allow staff to identify inefficient expenditure or the potential for better
deals with suppliers.