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CLC concerned about government's digital procurement plans

25 March 2021

The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has expressed its concerns about the government’s plans to digitalise its procurement activities.

In last December’s Cabinet Office green paper, Transforming Public Procurement, the government proposed the establishment of a single digital platform for supplier registration that ensures “they only have to submit their data once to qualify for any public sector procurement”, and stated it would legislate to introduce a common data model for all contracting authorities.

In its response to the government’s request for feedback on the plans, the CLC described the proposal as “hugely ambitious”.

“This level of ambition is potentially concerning as any difficulties in the implementation of the platform have the potential to act as a barrier to the timely delivery of procurement by public bodies,” the CLC said.

“The development of such a platform should be implemented progressively, with only basic functions at launch, building over time as each element is embedded. A centralised supplier registration functionality has its own merits and could sit as a separate linked database module to the commercial data.”

The CLC made more suggestions: “Ideally, the platform would act as an aggregator of local data sets, pulling data in from local ERP and or devolved cost systems, with algorithms to provide analysis and insights. This federated approach would be more rapid and proportional. The centralised data would therefore be non-mutable allowing commercial workflows to still take place at a local level, where there may be existing integrations with other asset management systems.

“The platform could also facilitate the creation of a national cost benchmark library with further opportunity to integrate with other databases such as DNAR, which would provide additional insight on the retained estate.”

The CLC’s response was prepared following consultation with construction trade bodies and other representative groups.

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