16 January 2003 | Robin Parker
Neath Port Talbot Council is on target to shave £3 million from its purchasing budget in the next four years.
The Welsh local authority saved £200,000 on its £60 million purchasing budget last year after setting up a dedicated procurement service in summer 2000 to develop a more rigorous and professional approach.
It has doubled its targets for each successive year to 2007.
As well as recruiting senior purchasers from the private sector for the 14-member unit, the council has set up a procurement quality panel to advise on best-practice purchasing by means of seminars and an ongoing training programme.
In its first best-value inspection of a Welsh local authority's procurement, the Audit Commission in Wales recognised Neath Port Talbot's efforts, but warned of an inconsistent approach and a lack of performance management data.
Alan Bennett, head of technical support services at the authority and responsible for overall procurement management, said this was being addressed. "We're spending time with every department to look at their current practices and procedures. There was no information in place on any of our commodity spend, which is now our main focus."