The UK government has made significant efforts trying to promote transparency with regards to the data it holds and its spending. The launch of the data.gov.uk portal is important in this respect as it currently brings together over 5,400 datasets from public bodies and both central and local government departments. The data is a mix of newly released and existing, and there are some particularly interesting series that can be downloaded.
One of these is UK central government procurement spending. This data is based on a survey of departments and “provides £86 billion of operational data, on what over 130 central government organisations and English local authorities spend in over 120 common categories of procurement.”
So what and where does government procure?
The first thing that is noticeable is that English local authorities procure over £41 billion worth of services equating to almost half of government procurement. Looking more closely at what they procure, social care equates to just over £10 billion, followed by construction at £8 billion and other professional services at approximately £5 billion. Further to this, facilities and waste management are procured at a cost of over £4 billion and professional services consultancy costing just over £1 billion.
The Ministry of Defence is the second biggest procurer at £20 billion. Following this, the Ministry of Justice procures more than £4 billion and the department for transport over £3.5 billion. More specifically the Department for Transport spends £2.3 billion on construction, £397 million on ICT, £221 million on other professional services and £144 million on professional services consultancy.
Below we have included the data on government spending across all departments in the areas of professional services consultancy and construction, with the breakdown of the categories within each of these areas.
Looking in more detail at the sub categories across departments
Interestingly, if you explore a number of the sub categories in more detail, such as construction service providers within the professional services consultancy category, you can see instantly which departments are procuring services and the amounts being spent. This should allow your company to more effectively target its tendering efforts.
For example within the construction service providers sub category, the government procures over £300 million and the largest spenders are Ministry of Justice (£65 million), DEFRA (£65 million) and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (£58 million).
On the other hand, in the design and build category, the government procures almost £2.5 billion in services, of which over £2.2 billion is procured by the Department for Transport.
The property and construction consultancy sub category (£183 million) has a more evenly distributed spending profile across the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (£43 million), Communities and Local Government (£41 million), Department for Transport (£35 million), Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (£23 million) and the Department for Children, Schools and Families (£21 million).
The data.gov.uk portal is a useful tool when trying to find information. The procurement of services data does provide some interesting insights into spending.
However, the true power of this transparency and information is currently not maximised. If government were to continue its efforts and connected the right pieces of information together it would enable more quick and efficient decision-making.
For example, if the procurement of services information above were to be linked with the forward pipeline of work, it could provide a transparent way for government to show what it is buying as well as reduce the cost and time associate with procurement itself. The key is helping industry to see, understand and respond to government’s changing demands.
To explore the data set above go to http://data.gov.uk/dataset/public-sector-procurement-spend