13 December 2001
Welsh local authorities are to establish a cross-council procurement unit to encourage collaboration, raise standards and cut costs.
The Welsh procurement initiative government support team, to be co-funded by the Welsh national assembly and local authorities, will be set up in April next year.
It was proposed by the Welsh Local Government Association, which represents all 22 authorities in the country.
The unit is an addition to the recommendations of the assembly's review of public-sector procurement, Better Value Wales.
After consultation with public-sector bodies, the assembly agreed to implement all 42 recommendations of the review, which aims to save £90 million - 3 per cent of its annual £3 billion public-sector procurement spend - from mid-2003.
A Welsh procurement initiative team, originally intended by the review to cover the whole public sector, will be set up at the same time to cover all other areas of procurement. It will be co-ordinated by the assembly in an as yet undecided location.
Paul Skellon, head of procurement at the assembly, said: "Local government is a complex sector with 22 separate organisations.
"Having a dedicated team will mean that the review's recommendations will be implemented more quickly."
Edwina Hart, the Welsh finance minister, will chair a supervisory board overseeing the two units. Each will consist of six public-sector procurement professionals, with additional purchasers on secondment in their own organisations.
They will advise rather than impose decisions, Skellon said.