COMMONS

Committee remains concerned over Home Office procurement practices

29 May 2012

The Home Affairs Committee publishes its report in The Work of the Permanent Secretary (April–December 2011) today, following an evidence session with Dame Helen Ghosh DCB in January and further written evidence. The Report focuses on the Home Office's measures to deliver cost-savings, particularly in procurement. 

The Committee identifies significant savings made through improved procurement practices, which rose to £75 million in the first three quarters of the 2011–12 financial year.

It welcomes the fact that the Home Office is acting on its earlier recommendation to extend the use of the compulsory national framework for police procurement, however expresses concern about the progress of the E-borders programme and the lack of clarity over plans to introduce privatisation into policing.

  • The Committee found that the costly joint procurement exercise being undertaken by Surrey and West Midlands Police lacked clarity. The Committee were not convinced that the Forces fully understood, or were fully able to articulate the process they were undertaking. With the overall costs of exploring this process set at £5 million, the Committee called on the Home Office to take responsibility for ensuring the public and stakeholders were aware of the process and to postpone the exercise till after the election of the Police and Crime Commissioners.
  • The e-Borders programme has proved highly problematic since it began in 2003. Despite the letting of new contracts to Serco and IBM in preparation for the London Olympics, the Committee remains concerned about the progress of the e-Borders programme, which has now been undertaken by successive governments.
  • The Committee also found that an unacceptable level of claims under the Riot Damages Act were still outstanding. With the first anniversary of the August riots fast approaching, the Committee recommends that the Home Office work with police authorities to publish a timetable for the payment of all outstanding claims. All those who made a legitimate claim should receive their payments by the first anniversary at the latest.

Rt. Hon Keith Vaz MP, Chairman of the Committee said:

"Progress has been made and we are pleased that the Home Office has accepted our previous recommendations on procurement. If it is to find £1.8bn savings it will have to look to new and innovative ways of service delivery through procurement.
Serious concerns remain over the process of procurement. The Committee believes moves towards greater private-sector involvement are being taken without clarity over their scope.
The privatisation of aspects of the police service began under the last government, however it is an area where forces should tread very carefully as some police functions simply cannot be outsourced. The Home Office must ensure it knows what services local forces wish to contract out, before agreeing to allow expenditure of £5 million on what is little more than a fishing expedition.
The e-Borders programme which has resulted in the loss of millions of pounds of taxpayers' money highlights the need for procurement to be carried out correctly and to include clear goals for private sector companies. It remains a huge disappointment that e-Borders is not fully in place in time for the Olympics"

Further Information

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