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Crothers appointed government chief procurement officer

Remit of role broadened to cover commercial relationships as well as procurement

Bill Crothers has taken over from John Collington as the government’s chief procurement officer, with an extended job specification covering a range of commercial as well as procurement responsibilities.

The appointment, which follows Collington’s departure for the private sector, has driven the merger of the existing procurement and commercial relationship functions in the Cabinet Office into a single Commercial Procurement and Relationships Directorate, which Crothers will run.

The Cabinet Office said the restructuring follows the publication of the civil service reform plan, which set out a clear need to improve commercial expertise in the civil service.

Previously Crothers had been the Cabinet Office’s executive director of commercial relationships, developing the government’s relationships with its key suppliers.

Commenting on Crothers’ appointment, Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, said: “We’ve made impressive progress on this agenda over the past two years, including saving £1.7bn on procurement and over £800m through contract renegotiations in 2010-11 alone. This is the next step in operating in a more commercially savvy way.

“Given Bill’s background and track record I am delighted that he has agreed to take on this expanded role as the government’s chief procurement officer.”

Crothers said: “I am delighted to be taking up the role of chief procurement officer and leading government’s drive to become a more demanding and commercially astute client.

“Only two weeks ago we met with 20 of the government’s biggest suppliers, representing about £15bn of annual spend, to set out the next phase of the government’s commercial programme. It was clear that they welcome the commercial reforms we have put in place and the opportunity to table further ideas.”

The Cabinet Office said the remit of the newly merged directorate will include the government’s strategic supplier programme, including supplier performance policy; the net work of crown representatives; and the development of the procurement profession and capability across Whitehall.

Chris Pennell, principal analyst at market intelligence firm Kable, said: “As one of the favourites, Crothers appointment is no great surprise. The expanded remit of the chief procurement officer and creation of the new Commercial Procurement and Relationship Directorate gives the impression that the Cabinet Office is looking to resurrect the Office of Government Commerce in its original form.:

He added: “Trying to avoid creating the same mistakes as last time will be a tricky issue for Crothers.”

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