06 April 2000 | Liam O'Brien
The Ministry of Defence is to join the government's procurement card initiative - two years after it was accepted by other government agencies, writes Liam O'Brien.
The MoD's purchasing card, launched last week by armed forces minister John Spellar, is said to have been held up by inertia within the ministry, which has an annual budget of £24 billion.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and HM Customs and Excise are among the government departments that already use the card, but it will not be implemented throughout the MoD until June 2001.
Jacky Jenkins, government procurement card implementation manager for the MoD, said: "The MoD is so big, it takes a long time to get things going."
The card, which has been trialled since 1999, is being used to purchase high-volume, low-value goods over the phone, fax or Internet. It is hoped that the time and cost of processing transactions will be cut by 50 per cent. The card will be used by 10,000 staff, who will have a ceiling on the cost of each transaction and their monthly spending. The MoD makes £600 million worth of routine purchases a year.
The new Office of Government Commerce wants 90 per cent of low-value, high-volume government procurement to be conducted electronically by 2002. But this is expected to be restricted as MoD employees only have limited Internet access, said Jenkins.