20 September 2001 | Robin Parker
An e-procurement system for the public sector in Scotland has been delayed because the Scottish Executive wants more details on the final two bidders.
The executive was to launch the system at a public procurement in Scotland conference in Edinburgh last week. But Ian Burdon, e-commerce director of the executive's procurement and social services division, said: "It's a complex project and there are further questions to be answered by the bidders."
The system, in the planning stages since May last year, is expected eventually to be used by more than 70 public-sector bodies including councils, Scottish government offices and educational institutions. The executive's annual procurement budget is around £5 billion.
Burdon said a new start date has not been announced. But Peter Collings, principal financial officer at the Scottish Executive, told SM that he expected the system to be introduced by early 2002.
The executive received more than 100 expressions of interest from software vendors after the tender notice was published last August, but more than two-thirds did not stand up to scrutiny. A date has yet to be set for the contract, which will be awarded either to IBM's Ariba Buyer-based system or a solution from consultancy Cap Gemini Ernst & Young.
"Too often, bidders' sales teams neglected to consult their technical colleagues about what we wanted," Burton told delegates. "Their research and analysis was often carried out without consulting buyers."
Steve Murray, e-commerce director of the executive's IT division, said that in contrast to the Office of Government Commerce's UK e-procurement pilot for central government purchasing, Scotland's challenge lay in meeting procurement needs across the entire public sector.
"We don't know how many organisations will take on the system," he told delegates. "But it needs to be flexible enough to meet the needs of agencies and suppliers large and small."