21 September 2000 | David Arminas
The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) is aiming to run about a dozen e-commerce pilot projects this autumn to examine how government staff use e-procurement.
A notice in the Official Journal of the European Commission invites companies to submit ideas, and the OGC hopes to make a decision by mid-October.
Brian Rigby, deputy chief executive of the OGC, told SM: "This is e-procurement widely defined, but excluding electronic tendering. "We're testing the 'human factor' in using e-procurement. Purchasing cards taught us that people are more important than the technology."
Earlier this year, the National Audit Office praised many government departments for their use of the purchasing card.
The OGC is open to looking at any of the 16 or so steps and areas involved in the e-procurement process, said Rigby.
These include what factors might help or hinder a person downloading large documents, or prevent integration with financial systems.
The move comes after a major rethink at the OGC, which was set up last April to co-ordinate better procurement, particularly involving the use of e-commerce at government departments and agencies.
The OGC was criticised when it decided to drop its electronic catalogue project this summer, saying there was some doubt about the cost savings expected. A more cautious approach to e-commerce systems is to become the norm, with a proven business case being required.
The OGC is planning separate electronic tendering projects later in the autumn.