The Crown Commercial Service has drafted in two private sector heavyweights as it seeks to build central government's procurement firepower.
CCS is the Cabinet Office agency in charge of government procurement, and was set up in 2014 with the task of centralising buying across Whitehall and the wider public sector in a bid to drive down costs.
It has been tasked with shaving more than £2bn from the cost of public sector procurement over the course of the current Spending Review period.
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Chief executive Malcolm Harrison has now announced that two external hires have been made to the CCS's team of strategic category directors, and promised they would bring a "wealth of experience" to the organisation.
Peter Lawson, who next week takes up post as strategic category director for people, is joining from international facilities management firm ISS, where he has served as head of procurement and property across the UK and Ireland. Lawson has previously worked for organisations including General Electric, Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Meanwhile, Samantha Ulyatt joins next month as strategic category director for buildings. She previously led the supply chain function at the nuclear arm of multinational firm Babcock International, and has also worked for energy giants E-On and United Utilities. Lawson will be based in London, while Ulyatt will work from Liverpool.
David Skinner, a former Royal Bank of Scotland senior manager who joined the Crown Commercial Service in 2014, has meanwhile been promoted to the role of strategic category director, corporate solutions, rounding off a batch of moves that Harrison vowed would help the organisation become "operationally excellent and customer focussed".
The CCS chief added: “Strengthening our senior team with experienced leaders who have deep knowledge of specific categories will help us meet our objectives and ensure CCS is best-placed to provide the best possible value for the taxpayer.”
Gareth Rhys Williams, the government's chief commercial officer, said the two hires were "a great reflection on CCS" and would be "a tremendous asset" as the agency seeks to meet its cost reduction targets.
The challenge of tempting senior commercial specialists to join the civil service from the private sector was thrown into sharp relief earlier this year, when a report by the Senior Salaries Review Body revealed that a drive to bring in 25 senior commercial experts had resulted in just ten appointments "even though the offer had been flexible in terms of pension, bonus, base pay and exit terms".
Since that report, efforts have been made to adjust the employment model for senior commercial staff, with a new Government Commercial Organisation set up to train, accredit and directly employ experts on better pay and terms, before loaning them back to departments.
CCS is currently on the lookout for 30 senior commercial managers, including procurement, contract and supplier management specialists. It is offering salaries of between £54,000 and £81,828 for the permanent roles, with interviews due to get underway next month.