04 May 2000 | David Arminas
The Environment Agency is reviewing its major regional framework agreements in a bid to double its use of purchasing cards.
"We want to drive the contracts further down the route of purchasing cards," said Tim Griffiths, the agency's procurement strategy manager. "We hope to double our spend through the cards for next year."
The agency spent £35 million on low-value routine purchases in the last financial year. Of this, £15 million was spent via the cards, with more than £2 million being spent in March alone.
"We still feel we can do better," said Griffiths. "There is a lot of scope - the cards are not being used just for goods." For the past year, framework contracts, in which prices are set but volumes are open, have covered stationery, hotels, furniture, train travel and workwear.
There are 3,500 cards already in use and, despite the new drive, Griffiths said he did not expect there to be many more issued. The typical individual order limit is £1,000, with a monthly user limit of around £5,000.
If the agency succeeds in its aim to double its spending using the cards to £30 million next year, it claims it would come close to achieving the government's target of conducting 90 per cent of routine procurement electronically by next April.
The Office of Government ?ommerce, set up last month to promote procurement best practice in government departments and spearhead the drive towards the 90 per cent target, recently announced it is launching a review of the government's e-commerce policies.
This announcement came amid doubts over the practicality of meeting the target and what will count as e-commerce towards it. "As far as we are concerned, purchasing card activity is electronic trading," said Griffiths.
Last year the agency was singled out in a National Audit Office report, Modernising Government, as one of the first successful major users of purchasing cards. It was also joint winner in the government division in the inaugural Kelly's Awards for Excellence in Purchasing and Supply.