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About Procurement Capability Reviews (PCRs)

Capability Improvement through Self Assessment

The programme of Procurement Capability Reviews (PCRs) was first announced in Transforming Government Procurement in January 2007. This programme is central to the Government's aim to ensure that procurement drives public service improvements supporting the Government"s Smarter Government agenda and Operational Efficiency Programme (OEP) through the publication of transparent commercial performance data.

The results of the initial reviews (Wave 1) of 16 central civil government departments are published on OGC's website. PCRs have resulted in a number of capability improvements in departments and these are outlined in our Wave 1 Overview Report (PDF, 468KB).  The programme is designed to respond to the ongoing pursuit for excellence in public procurement to obtain better value for money and deliver strategic policies in an effective and efficient way. 

Following completion of the initial reviews, OGC has developed a self assessment tool in consultation with departments to help them to continue to drive up their procurement capability - this approach forms the basis of the next round (Wave 2) of PCRs. Underpinned by the same PCR Assessment Model (PDF, 608KB) Wave 2 maintains a direct line of sight from Wave 1, but uses a new PCR Maturity Matrix (PDF, 259KB) to  help departments score their procurement capability from the nine perspectives comprising OGC"s PCR Assessment Model. As part of the Maturity Matrix red indicates that development is required, amber indicates an area that is for purpose and green indicates "best in class."

Self assessment enables departments to assess their procurement capability, alongside a robust assurance process and adds value by:

  • Confirming the improvements achieved since the initial PCR reviews 
  • Highlighting business areas requiring further development
  • Enabling departments to use their own management information to drive continuous improvements
  • Allowing both central and wider family bodies to assess their procurement capability to build an overall picture

It is easy to use and a quick process for determining departmental procurement capability.

The key differences between the initial reviews and the self-assessment process can be summarised as:

Initial Reviews Self-Assessment
Carried out using diagnostic interviews and an external assessment of procurement capability. Reliant on fact finding and external data gathering Qualitative assessment validated by departmental management data and collection of evidence.
Moderation of results chaired by the Head of Profession Third party assurance carried out by OGC or a third party alongside an escalation route to the Head of Profession by exception.
Over 100 standards in the self assessment framework. Less than 50 standards in the self assessment framework and 16 key performance indicators.
Publication of PCR reports and improvement plans, including scores alongside overview reports. Publication of a short report with commentary from OGC and the department.
Mandatory improvement plans and 6 monthly milestone assessments. Discretionary improvement plans and 6 monthly milestone assessments.
Mandatory OGC-led stakeholder and supplier surveys. Optional recommended OGC-led stakeholder and supplier surveys.

Self Assessment Process
The main process steps for completion of a self assessment return can be downloaded below:

Self Assessment Process (PDF, 17KB)

Following receipt of the departmental self assessment return, quality assurance is carried out, either by a third party or by OGC to test the robustness of the results.
These results will be published online and will demonstrate progress in departments since the initial reviews. Self assessment will become an annual process for departments and OGC will support capability improvements where gaps in performance are identified.

Increased importance of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
PCR self assessment tool has sixteen Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) built into it and these are used as part of the validation of responses to qualitative questions / measures. The KPIs are highly relevant to measuring commercial / procurement performance and include those KPIs that relate to an Operational Efficiency Programme recommendation as well as wider procurement policy objectives including sustainability.

The KPIs have been mapped within the self assessment tool to key areas of procurement operations to provide the department with useful Management Information which will help drive continuous improvement across the commercial landscape.

You can see a detailed definition of each KPI here (PDF, 296KB).

Scope of PCRs
PCRs focus solely on commercial activity in central civil departments and look in detail at three main elements of a department's procurement capability: leadership, skills development and deployment, and systems and processes. The PCR Model was developed for the Wave 1 reviews and forms the framework of assessment which covers the widest definition of procurement, from commodities to complex PFI projects.

Procurement activities across the whole lifecycle, from policy and strategy to delivery and disposal, are included. Spend through the full length of the department's delivery chains is explored, from central departmental functions, through to agencies, Non Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs), partners and end users. The focus is on high impact, large expenditure areas. The department's ability to act as an intelligent client both to assess commercial risk and influence procurement activity across their wider networks is critical.

The PCR process represents the beginning of a journey towards achieving real and lasting improvement in capability - a journey that the department undertakes supported closely by OGC. Review of key performance data and performance benchmarking on an annual basis will ensure momentum is maintained.

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