Westminster cloud

The government has announced the appointment of six 'private sector experts' as crown representatives to work alongside departments to squeeze further savings from suppliers.

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, has said that the business leaders will be charged with negotiating the best contracts on behalf of the government and have a combined 150 years of commercial insight from working in the private sector.

In recent years the Cabinet Office has been revisiting contracts held by large technology vendors and has renegotiated savings on licensing and maintenance to deliver savings, which has previously been headed up by government chief operating officer, Stephen Kelly.

For example, last year the government saved over £140 million on renegotiated deals with SAP, Microsoft and Oracle. It is has been able to do this by operating as a 'single customer' to achieve economies of scale, whereas previously government departments had carried out deals with large vendors independently.

"We're serious about equipping the Civil Service with the right skills to help the UK compete in the global race. That's why we've recruited experts from the business world, using their commercial insight to work alongside Departments to get the most from relationships with our largest suppliers," said Maude.

"We are spending less overall, but spending taxpayers' money better. Our six new recruits have a big job ahead of them to build on the £800 million saved by renegotiating expensive contracts in the first 10 months of this Government - I'm confident they will put the full weight of their expertise behind the challenge."

The new hires include:

James Hall - Previously had 30 years with Accenture.

Graham Jackson - Has worked in the procurement and supply chain sector for 32 years, mostly in IT and telecoms.

David Jephson - Held positions in IT at companies such as British Steel, Mars, Coca-Cola, Eastern Electricity and Imperial Tobacco.

Ian Taylor - Director of Balfour Beatty between 1999 and March 2013, and has had senior positions at Cable & Wireless and BAE Systems.

Michael Wade - Background in the insurance sector, which he joined in 1975, working for an aviation syndicate at Lloyd's.

Rob Wilmot - One of the three founding executives at Freeserve.

hief Procurement Officer and Commercial Director General Bill Crothers said: "We know we can only drive efficiencies if we act as a single customer to maximise our buying power and be a better client."

"Our new Crown Representative appointments will bolster the impact of work Departments are doing to identify savings and demonstrate a commitment to improving supplier relationships and performance - an objective which has already made an immediate difference to how Government does business."