03 October 2002 | Robin Parker
Management support is as much of a challenge as supplier involvement in introducing e-procurement in central government, according to a report on pilot projects in seven departments.
About £800,000 of goods and services were bought in 2,000 transactions with 200 suppliers in the Office of Government Commerce's (OGC) six-month e-procurement trials.
While all departments met or exceeded their targets, every department said supplier adoption was a key challenge.
The Department of Trade and Industry in particular reported varying levels of supplier readiness and a lack of engagement among senior managers in the department's disparate offices.
Amber Ritson, assistant director of e-commerce at the OGC, said the pilots showed this has been overlooked in the government target to bring 10 per cent of services online by 2005.
"The target talks about delivery of services to the public and the core business, but procurement remains a support service and we want to get senior management to focus on it through the strategy," she said.
"We were surprised at how hard it was to get suppliers to come on board, and the pilots demonstrated that suppliers and buyers need to work far more closely together."
Ritson said the OGC is focusing on establishing common standards for online data and commodity codes to make purchasing information and requirements easier to communicate.
The report also offers advice for Whitehall on implementing and using e-procurement ahead of the OGC's publication later this year of a full strategy for the 35 central government departments and 57 agencies.