Stack 'em high, sell 'em cheap?(National Procurement)

The anticipated savings brought about by the introduction of a national procurement strategy will be welcomed by those responsible for the management and funding of the UK fire and rescue services. With costs of equipment well over 300 million [pounds sterling], excluding the new dimensions funding, there may be significant scope for efficiency improvements. There ate, however, concerns that a national approach to procurement could have a detrimental effect upon the suppliers of fire and rescue services and furthermore, lead to potential problems of a "one size fits all' approach to equipment and vehicles.

Fire Service Circular 18/2003 sets out the development of an National Procurement Strategy, building upon work done by the Audit Commission in its reports In The Line of Fire (1995) and A Uniform Approach (2001). The latter document indicated that tire authorities should review their approach to procurement and collaborate to remove barriers to procurement and standardisation. The barriers included a reluctance for authorities to compromise on the design of equipment and PPE.

In its conclusion the report recommended that there should be a national procurement strategy and that a standard specification for uniform and personal protective equipment (PPE) should be developed and procured under a national call-off contract. …

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