Gareth Rhys Williams launches the Government Commercial Function Strategy 2021-2025

Central to this strategy is a focus on transforming the public procurement regime, harnessing and using data as a strategic asset for decision-making
Gareth Rhys Williams

Since the formation of our function in 2015, we have taken enormous strides towards our vision, to become ‘the best commercial function in the UK.’ This strategy recognises the outstanding progress we have made since then, and builds on our success to bring us ever close to realising our vision.

In the past five years, we have seen so many incredible achievements delivered by the more than 4,000 professionals in our function. In carrying out our core role - procuring goods and services which keep our citizens safe, build important public assets and deliver essential frontline public services - we have consistently produced commercial benefits and savings of over £2bn per annum*, alongside letting and managing contracts which deliver better public services.

Just as importantly, we have gone beyond that core remit to deliver a step change in the way the UK government ‘does’ commercial. We have delivered world-class commercial training and accreditation to professionals in central government and beyond. We have designed and implemented commercial policies that have made a profound difference to businesses, and developed Sourcing Playbooks in partnership with our suppliers to ensure we apply best practice in how we conduct sourcing for services, deliver major construction projects and engage consultants effectively.

More recently, we have spent more than a year tackling COVID-19, the biggest peacetime challenge faced by a UK Government for more than a century - the GCF’s central role in delivering testing, ventilators, vaccines and free school meals has proven once and for all we are central to the delivery of excellent public services. I am incredibly proud of these achievements, and many more of the extraordinary things we have done together.

The last year has forced us to do things differently, quickly solving problems that would ordinarily take years to fix, and we have learnt lessons about where we still need to improve and I am determined that we seize this opportunity to implement them.

With this in mind, I am delighted to launch the GCF’s Strategy for 2021-2025. Central to this strategy is our focus on transforming the public procurement regime, harnessing and using our data as a strategic asset for decision-making, continuing to invest in our people and expanding the same support currently provided to central government into the wider public sector. We will do this by delivering across 4 fronts:

Our people

Ensuring we continue to attract, accredit, develop and connect the best and most diverse commercial talent.

 Digital and transparency

Utilising data as a strategic asset, allowing information to flow to where it can be used to deliver most value and build public trust through greater transparency.

 How we work

Simplifying and speeding up procurement processes, removing unnecessary bureaucracy and embedding consistent application of commercial standards and best commercial practice.

 Influence and scale

Leveraging our unique influence and scale to strengthen partnerships, foster healthy supply markets, develop new markets where they do not exist, unlock benefits from innovation and deliver wider social value and economic benefits through public procurement.

Delivering on our ambitions will require a collective effort across our commercial community around the UK, taking lessons from our experience, and reaching further to realise our vision. To do this, we need to continue attracting and retaining top commercial talent, putting digital at the heart of our processes, doing the hard work to keep things simple, and working collaboratively with our markets as One Government to deliver financial, social and economic benefits across the UK.

This is an enormous opportunity to continue forging the GCF’s pathway to excellence and deliver a step change in the procurement landscape. I am excited to seize the moment and take another step closer to being ‘the best’.

Read the Strategy here

Learn more about the Government Commercial Function here

*Gareth Rhys Williams has been the UK Government Chief Commercial Officer since 2017

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