The range of goods and services procured by the public sector pervade every aspect of our lives: the rubbish that was collected from outside my door, to the pothole that ruined my car’s suspension, or the school meal my son will eat at
lunchtime. And when procurement goes wrong we all hear about it, such as the scrapped £12.4 billion NHS Connecting for Health programme, or the failure of G4S to supply security services to the London 2012 Olympic Games.
If, like me, your local council provides a multitude of brightly coloured bins to help you separate your recycling, garden and general waste then they’re simply wasting money. Local authorities could save £5 per wheelie bin if they bought plain black or grey bins with coloured lids instead. While this doesn’t sound much, Birmingham City Council just bought 400,000 of them at a saving of £2m simply by changing the colour. And as local authorities buy more than £58 billion worth of goods and services every year – roughly a quarter of their budget – there is room for substantial savings.