Established in 1983, the Audit Commission is an independent watchdog, driving economy, efficiency and effectiveness in public services. The Commission promotes value for money for taxpayers, auditing the £200 billion spent by 11,000 local public bodies. Its remit covers local government, health, housing, community safety and fire and rescue services. The Commission employs 2,500 people, mostly in Bristol but also in London and around 200 UK sites.
In January 2007 CIPS awarded the Audit Commission with Certification to recognise the excellence of its procurement policies and procedures.
“We were delighted to be the first Non-Departmental Public Body to achieve CIPS Certification. The certification process was robust and challenging and has helped us to improve procurement activity in the Commission. It is vital that the Commission is seen to ‘practise what we preach’ and external validation from CIPS has helped us achieve this.’ Alexandra Townsend, Head of Procurement, Finance and Planning at the Audit Commission
Procurement’s Profile in the Organisation
The Audit Commission is subject to the legal and regulatory framework for public sector procurement. Procurement’s function, which lies within the Commission's finance department, is to be custodian of this policy. Led by the Head of Procurement, Finance and Planning, the eight-strong Procurement team is responsible for a total annual spend of approximately £40 million.
Since CIPS’ first assessment, the team has successfully raised Procurement’s status and impact throughout the whole organisation. Over half the specialist team is qualified to MCIPS status, with others studying for CIPS qualifications.
The Audit Commission is accountable for achieving best value for money and is open to legal challenge under the EU public procurement directives and related UK regulations. So, as a regulator, the Audit Commision needs to demonstrate high quality practice, risk management and corporate governance. Substantial reduction of its carbon emissions in line with government targets is also central to its procurement strategies..
Why choose CIPS Certification?
The Procurement team is committed to offering best in class procurement to internal customers and suppliers, and to be recognised by clients, the supply base and internal customers as exemplars of best procurement practice in the public sector. Undergoing the rigorous 10-step CIPS Certification programme offers benchmarking against standards of recognised good practice set by a worldwide centre of excellence on purchasing and supply management issues.
Contribution to Business Improvement
CIPS Certification offers a sound warranty to stakeholders that the Audit Commission has a well-structured and documented set of purchasing policies and procedures with a high degree of clarity. There is universal access to these through a strong “Procurement Knowledge Network” on the organisation’s Intranet.
As CIPS Certification is a dynamic standard that includes an interim audit, continuous improvement is encouraged and becomes embedded into the culture of the team. The Procurement team has adopted a strong learning ethos and an aptitude for listening that has resulted in a step change in its procurement policies and procedures.