This was the message from Paul Hopkins, Deputy Director General, NSW Procurement (Department of Commerce) in his address to the Contracts On Show 2006 in Sydney on Wednesday 22nd November.
Speaking directly to the public service procurement people in the audience, he said 'the biggest change in NSW procurement will be cultural, not procedural".
In opening the Forum, the Hon John Della Bosca, NSW Minister for Commerce had pointed out that the recent NSW State Plan called for identification of more efficient ways to deliver better services. He said "procurement was the key, with savings achieved in procurement redirected to improved services".
Paul Hopkins emphasised that the new approach involves the NSW Government 'buying smarter' to reduce costs by:
- Leveraging its $11 billion purchasing strength to achieve savings
- Standardising and simplifying processes and cutting red tape
- Sharing infrastructure and reducing duplication
- Acting strategically in purchasing
- Improving procurement skills with government
Changes in technology will now enable a move to centralise procurement, providing greater potential for optimising value to government. Paul Hopkins also said "the previous situation of diversified purchasing and tailored solutions hadn't optimised the government's cost management. It was characterised by a lack of strategic thinking, risk aversion, proliferation of policies and procedures and a reactive rather than planned approach to purchasing".
One of the key elements of this new direction is a move towards a much more professional approach to purchasing. Highlighting the serious shortage of professional purchasing skills and resources in the public sector, Mr Hopkins pointed out to the audience that they were in the most exciting place to be. He challenged them to step up to the new challenges presented by the new procurement environment.