A year after "best-value" procurement was introduced to replace compulsory competitive tendering the government has issued a report telling councils to pull up their socks.
The report, written by the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions' local government procurement practice taskforce, explains how to plan, fund and organise procurement. It also suggests that local authorities should include a procurement review in their best-value programmes and it states that such reviews should take into account the views of staff. It adds that each local authority should produce a document that sets out the principles of its procurement strategy.

The report suggests two ways that local authorities and the Audit Commission could make procurement more efficient. First, local authorities are advised to use standing orders rather than making payments ad hoc. Second, the Audit Commission is advised to guide and train auditors and inspectors so that they can support a strategic approach to procurement. The commission is also advised zto help local authorities clarify the roles of inspectors.

The report recommends that the government should consolidate funding into a single fund rather than siphon it from different departments. "Such a fund could usefully absorb the resources currently made available in support of PFI projects so as to allow a wider range of partnership options", the report adds.