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EURIM Public Service Delivery Subgroup:

Public Procurement Guidance

The problems caused by the current plethora of complex and duplicated guidance with regard to public sector procurement processes are flagged in the Public Administration Select Committee report “Government and IT: A Recipe for Rip-off”.

The problems are exacerbated by the tensions across Whitehall and between central and local government as budgets are cut and Government policy is to pass responsibility for delivery to a variety of innovative, cross-departmental and community-based partnerships.

The aim of this group is to promote good practice by identifying and publicising case studies of success and examples of authoritative, clear and practical guidance that are relevant to the procurements such partnerships will undertake.

Introduction and Terms of Reference

Forthcoming Meetings

Recent Meetings

Shared Network
Services Procurement Subgroup

Security Products &
Services Subgroup

Group Outputs (Papers and Briefings)

Other Relevant Documents & Links

Members Page – for meeting details, minutes, working drafts, and additional group information



Introduction and Terms of Reference

The task is to promote good practice in flexible, innovative and short-order procurements to deliver more for less, with a particular focus on rapid payback projects that will free funds for re-investment in further improvements, thus bringing forward economic recovery as well as better service at lower cost.

The UK public sector commonly pays 30% more for equivalent products and services and the average procurement takes over 24 months compared to under 9 in Germany.  The overheads of public buying organisations (nearly 50 identified in the NAO/Audit Commission report) and Framework Agreements (over a hundred related to ICT products and services) are part of the problem. The situation is often blamed on the EU procurement directives while Commission blames UK implementation and an irrational fear of being sued by unsuccessful bidders: ”Please do not blame us for your English lawyers".  

The aim is therefore for Corporate and Associate members to work with observers in the Audit Commission, National Audit Office, Government Procurement Solutions and the European Commission to identify and publicise existing guidance material, precedents and case studies from both user and the supplier side – and to address any gaps.

To that end the Subgroup produced a succinct (five pages with cartoons to illustrate the main points) Status Report linking to the main sources of authoritative material and also a One Page Summary for Ministers, MPs on Select Committees, Councillors and others going in to meetings to review proposals and programmes (large or small). The one page summary was described by Stephen Timms MP, then Financial Secretary to the Treasury, as an ideal crib sheet for new MPs and Ministers to try to avoid the mistakes of their predecessors.

The Subgroup then focussed on identifying those frameworks covering Shared Network Services and Security Products and Services which represented good practice and should be re-used and built on, pending the completion of the reviews being undertaken by Cabinet Office. Those reviews are taking longer than anticipated, largely because of the pressures to focus on immediate savings.

Programme for 2011-12

Quarters 1 and 2 2011

Quarter 3 2011

  • Plan forward programme to summarise conclusions from work to date and publicise existing clear guidance on good practice as part of build up to “Delivering More for Less” policy study.


Forthcoming Meetings

Date Description Papers


Recent Meetings

Date Subject Papers
09 Jun 10 Subgroup meeting Summary ReportEURIM Members & Registered Observers Only
09 Mar 10 Subgroup meeting  Summary ReportEURIM Members & Registered Observers Only
04 Feb 10 Visit of UK parliamentarians to The Netherlands to understand Dutch Public Procurement Meeting NotesEURIM Members & Registered Observers Only
PresentationEURIM Members & Registered Observers Only
12 Jan 10 Subgroup meeting  Summary ReportEURIM Members & Registered Observers Only
18 Nov 09 Subgroup meeting Summary ReportEURIM Members & Registered Observers Only
02 Sep 09 Subgroup meeting Summary ReportEURIM Members & Registered Observers Only
29 July 09 Subgroup meeting  Summary ReportEURIM Members & Registered Observers Only
01 Jul 09 Subgroup meeting Summary ReportEURIM Members & Registered Observers Only 
03 Jun 09 Subgroup meeting Summary ReportEURIM Members & Registered Observers Only
22 Apr 09 Subgroup meeting Summary ReportEURIM Members & Registered Observers Only
19 Mar 09 Subgroup meeting Summary ReportEURIM Members & Registered Observers Only
27 Feb 09 Subgroup meeting  Summary ReportEURIM Members & Registered Observers Only
05 Feb 09 Subgroup meeting  Summary Report
Background Information from RAND EuropeEURIM Members & Registered Observers Only
17 Dec 08 Planning meeting Summary ReportEURIM Members & Registered Observers Only


Group Outputs (Papers & Briefings)


Type of Output


Sep 09 Status Report Summary Good Practice in Procurement - Summary
Sep 09 Status Report Good Practice in Procurement


Other Relevant Documents and Links

March 2009 OGC Guidance for Procurement effectiveness in major project delivery - 'A Formula for Success'. This guidance is based on the premise that effective procurement is central to the management of risk and a key component in the journey to effective delivery.
February 2009 Open Source, Open Standards and Re–Use: Government Action Plan
Government considers that in order to deliver its key objectives a programme of positive action is now needed to ensure that there is an effective 'level playing field' between open source and proprietary software and to realise the potential contribution open source software can make to wider aims of re-use and open standards. Government policy on procurement is set out in Section 6, while the Action Plan (Section 7) calls for clear and open guidance for ensuring that open source and proprietary products are considered equally and systematically for value for money.

To help bring together the online debate around this Action Plan, the Government has set up a public page which contains links to blog posts, news stories and tweets about UK government, open source and open standards. If you wish to engage in this debate, please visit

February 2009 Service provision and e-Government_HollandEURIM Members & Registered Observers Only
There is no centralised IT procurement in the Netherlands. Instead, there is a common, shared framework, sealed by an agreement between local, provincial and national government, on which major IT components should be developed and used, but the speed and method of implementation  varies widely between different organisations (who pay for implementation from their own budgets). This is the document on which that agreement was based.

Flowers Report (Contrasting Approaches to the Adoption of e-Government:The UK and the NetherlandsEURIM Members & Registered Observers Only
This paper compares e-Government policy processes in the UK and the Netherlands and draws some generic policy lessons for the implementation of e-Government policy. It focuses on cross-sectoral activities, including the purchase and deployment of large IT systems by Government, and the use of such systems for public procurement (including e-procurement) and service delivery.

January 2009 Procurement Guidance - Audit Commission paper
This paper aims to summarise the available supporting information for public sector procurement, with a focus on ICT procurement, including guidance documents, best practice, case studies and toolkits, and where possible, provide evidence of success. This supports the Group objective to make departments and agencies more aware of what each other is already doing or planning, as well as of the guidance available from the Audit Commission, NAO, OGC and elsewhere.
January 2009 Office of Government Comment (OGC) Procurement Policy Notes (including 14 Jan 09 note on the recent EU relaxation of rules on the accelerated procurement procedure:

OGC Policy and Standards Framework material:

The OGC publication 'Social Issues in Purchasing' (2006) offers practical guidance on how a range of policy issues can be included at different stages of the procurement process. It shows how the principles of sustainable development can be made consistent with achieving value for money, the efficiency agenda and meeting EU rules, and demonstrates how social issues can be legitimately incorporated into earliest stages of the purchasing cycle.

July 2008 Digital Era Governance
IT Corporations, the State, and e-Government
Patrick Dunleavy, Helen Margetts, Simon Bastow & Jane Tinkler
Published by OUP 2008
This book examines how government information systems are managed (or in some cases mismanaged) in several different countries and contrasts varying policies, attitudes and outcomes.  Details at:

The National Audit Office has issued a range of relevant web documents and reports, the more important of which are listed below.  They have a general guidance page at:

Spring 2009

NAO work in progress on: Sustainable Procurement:

This work is focussing on the procurement of routine goods and the associated management of demand and of supply chains, while reviewing how departments are reconciling sustainability objectives with achieving value for money.

December 2008

NAO report: Better Management of Service Contracts:

A key theme from the Procurement Capability Reviews is that there is considerable scope for government departments to improve contract management, with in particular a shortfall in contract management skills and resources. It recommends that OGC should extend the approach it has adopted with the IT sector to cover other major service categories.

July 2008

NAO Report: The Procurement of Good and Services by HM Prison Service:

The NAO acknowledges that the Prison Service has made significant progress in implementing the information technology infrastructure needed to support its procurement activity. It also states:  “In seeking to deliver its new IT system on time and on budget, the Prison Service should refer to the lessons set out in our predecessor Committee’s Report, Improving the Delivery of Government IT Projects”.  This is the 1999 PAC report listed below.

December 2007

NAO Report: BBC Procurement:

This report recommends that BBC makes wider use of its management information to plan procurement spending and get better deals from suppliers.

November 2005

NAO Report: Procurement in the Culture Media and Sport Sector:

While not specific to ICT, the report notes that wider use could be made of framework agreements and other collaborative procurement procedures and calls for better information sharing to help identify further opportunities.  It declares that better management information would support improved procurement performance.

November 2004

NAO report: Improving IT procurement: The impact of the Office of Government Commerce’s initiatives on departments and suppliers in the delivery of major IT-enabled projects:

This report assesses the impact of the OGC's work to date in helping departments improve IT procurement and makes recommendations on how further improvements can be achieved.


Public Accounts Committee Report: Improving the Delivery of Government IT Projects” (including a summary of key conclusions and recommendations):

EURIM held a workshop in March 2000 to discuss this report.  The minutes of that meeting and other material from the previous Public Procurement Working Group (1996 - 2002) are in the Working Group Archive.


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