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Procurex North Keynote: Peter Schofield

Tuesday February 10th, 2015

AGMABringing Mancunian spirit to Procurex North is Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) Procurement Programme Manager Peter Schofield.

Mr Schofield said: “AGMA was established as a joint committee in 1986 when the current model of unitary authorities was introduced in Greater Manchester. It was initially set up to oversee delivery of county-wide services including public transport, fire and rescue, police and waste disposal following the abolition of the Greater Manchester County Council.

“Over time AGMA has built up a host of cross-authority professional groups and works in partnership with a wide range of organisations including private, public and voluntary within the city-region and beyond to develop policy and lobby on behalf of the city-region for investment and funding.”

Mr Schofield works with the group’s Improvement and Efficiency Leadership department securing efficiencies, cash savings and smart procurement across AGMA and its partners. To do this he manages a range of high-profile projects and knowledge-sharing.

He said: “The ten local authorities and partners in Greater Manchester are working together with a common objective to make Greater Manchester a world-class city-region at the heart of a thriving North of England.

“The Greater Manchester Strategy, Stronger Together, is the sustainable plan for the city-region. Development of the strategy commenced in 2009 and it was formally approved by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership in November 2013.”

Mr Schofield explained that Stronger Together aims to have made Greater Manchester a more socially mobile, connected, talented and green region by 2020. It will do this by setting the objectives for Greater Manchester bodies such as Transport for Greater Manchester, the Low Carbon Hub and other key partners.

Mr Schofield added: “As the regional strategy stimulates collaboration, I think the effect will be extremely positive.

“Each of the GM Councils has its own partners and challenges, but the existence of AGMA and GMCA promotes consideration of other partners’ positions and collaboration in developing plans.”  
Mr Schofield even credits the increased collaboration across GM Councils with the recent English ‘devolution deal’.

He cited the deal as part of a wider modernisation pattern among local councils. This modernisation, he said, started with the Byatt Report in 2001 and continued with the first Local Government National Procurement (LGNP) Strategy.

Mr Schofield explained: “The LGNP Strategy raised the profile of procurement with senior managers and elected members; it also demonstrated how procurement can underpin delivery of a council strategy.
“It led to the development of category management, which has sharpened the procurement unit’s commercial approach and helped to deliver some of the necessary local authority budget reductions.

“We now have a better understanding of the market, and can take an active role in developing stronger supply chains.”

This development, Mr Schofield said, includes tackling some of the LGNP Strategy’s reoccurring challenges, such as austerity, local sourcing, leadership and modernising processes.
He continued: “The solutions of the latest [2014] National Procurement Strategy may echo some of those from the LGNP Strategy, but delivery of these solutions will be more advanced. For example, improved spend analysis data creates efficiencies for procurers and bidders through e-tendering portals. This in turn creates more consistent approaches to documentation.”

Among other benefits of procurement modernisation, Mr Schofield cites the statutory requirement to deliver social value; something he said procurement officers had been striving toward since the Best Value Act of the late 1990s. However, he noted that there is still room for improvement.

“Austerity has led to staff reductions which have hindered local government pre-procurement stage planning and contract management.

“Procurement officers need to use resources more widely and ensure procurement decisions are taken in the context of the wider corporate objectives of the procuring/commissioning organisations.”

Mr Schofield predicts that in the future local government procurement will take on more of a commissioning role, with the private and ‘not for profit’ sectors playing increasingly significant parts.
He said: “Smart procurement and commissioning can generate positive outcomes in terms of safeguarding, sustainable regeneration and growth, building stronger communities as well as helping to deal with the continued austerity programmes.”

To share in more of Mr Schofield’s expertise, book your Procurex North place via the Procurex website.

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