Procurement: Brexit’s One Certainty

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In or out, hard or soft, will it ever happen?  Brexit has taken uncertainty across Public Services to new heights. For procurement services, the lack of clarity from Government makes forward planning nigh on impossible and is proving to be the biggest block to managing supply chains. As frustrating as it is to work in a fog of uncertainty, it brings new career opportunities for senior interim procurement professionals.

Whichever way the tide of Brexit turns, public services will need experienced and knowledgeable leaders of procurement services to help navigate unchartered seas. Let’s look at the impact of the two most likely Brexit outcomes for interim heads of procurement services.

In the event of a no deal, access to the OJEU framework may be closed off for the UK or the rules of engagement redefined. The significance of this cannot be underestimated. Without access to OJEU, UK Public Services will not be able to procure from EU suppliers. A sobering thought for the potential impact on medicine and life-sustaining medical equipment.

Plan B, published by the government is designed to mitigate this risk and ensure current regulations remain operable and functional on exit. Until these plans are put to the test no one knows just how effective they will be.

What we do know is that public services will have to quickly adapt to a different set of regulations that govern procurement and new ways of working. For interims this presents a good opportunity to showcase skills while, for clients, they will need to plan carefully and swiftly to ensure they get the best interim talent, which will potentially be in short supply.

Alternatively, the UK leaves with a deal. It’s widely anticipated that during the implementation period regulations will largely remain unchanged but it’s harder to make a call on how supply chains will be impacted.

Longer term, there’s potential for public services to have greater freedom over procurement, particularly if requirements that relate to transparency of evaluation and contract modifications are relaxed. Whatever the terms of the new deal, public procurement will have to navigate them.

When a decision is reached public services will have to address the backlog of buying decisions put on hold until the government provides certainty. 

When that happy day arrives interim Heads of Procurement Services and CPOs will have a significant role to play leading change and transformation. Hiring managers looking to buy in this experience will need to be quick off the mark as the public procurement pool is well defined and due to the specialist knowledge required they will not have the option of hiring from the private sector. 

From great uncertainty comes greater opportunity for senior procurement professionals. Whether you are a hiring manager or career interim do get in to touch to further explore opportunities at Joanne.Till@gatenbysanderson.com.