17 January 2002 | Robin Parker
A range of e-procurement systems are to be tested by seven public-sector organisations in a bid to calm suppliers' fears over online trading security.
The project, launched by the Office of Government Commerce, will use three e-procurement packages for products they purchase regularly.
When the pilot phase ends in July, the OGC plans to produce a guide based on the experience of the trial departments.
The project is intended to help departments reach a government objective to bring 25 per cent of transactions online by the end of the year.
The solutions, from Accenture, Biomni and Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, will be piloted in seven public-sector bodies, including the Department of Trade and Industry and the National Assembly for Wales, which has begun a pilot with 66 suppliers.
The trials will be reviewed in March and a final report published in July. An OGC spokesman said the trials aim to account for the complexity of purchasing in the public sector.
"A one-size-fits-all model was not the way forward," he said. "Many products might be unique to departments. We want as many suppliers to join as possible on a level playing field.
"Suppliers are wary of security online and we need to allay their concerns."
Security fears also contributed to the recent extension of the pilot of TenderTrust, the OGC's e-tendering project for larger procurement contracts.
TenderTrust will now be tested until the end of February.
• The first edition of the OGC's guide to e-procurement in the public sector, which will form the basis of the reviews, can be found at www.epilots.co.uk/pages/interim_reports_public.html