More legal news
22 May 2003 | David Arminas
The government's procurement advisory body has targeted legal services and broadband Internet connections in two contracts.
The deal for legal services alone is expected to save £7 million in purchasing costs over three years.
Peter Gershon, chief executive of the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), said the contracts showed the benefits of close co-operation between government purchasers and the private sector.
Gershon formally launched the framework deals at the annual Public Sector Expo in London last week.
"It's an area where the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee have identified substantial room for improvement because of some of the traditional ways that these services have been purchased in the past," Gershon told several hundred public-sector purchasers in his opening address.
The framework contract, called L-Cat, includes a catalogue of 33 legal firms with specialities including IT, property and estates, construction and finance.
Simon Tudor-Price, a solicitor at Simmons and Simmons, said the framework allows purchasers to choose legal firms knowing that their record and experience has already been established by the OGC.
Gershon noted that hook-up prices in the broadband framework contract are around 20 per cent lower than standard connection charges.
Vivienne Roberts, broadband solutions manager at the OGC, said purchasers using the framework would save time and money because they would not have to advertise in the Official Journal of the European Union.
Gershon stressed that the frameworks include many small and medium-sized companies in response to concerns about SMEs not being able to crack the government market.
The OGC is also reviewing its IT services catalogue, S-Cat, and Gershon said he expects up to nearly half the suppliers in new categories will be SMEs.
• A flagship government software deal could be under threat unless purchasing advisers make more effort to persuade departments to use it.
Less than half of the 66 departments scrutinised by the National Audit Office have used a memorandum of understanding signed last year by the OGC and Microsoft.
In its report, Purchasing and Managing Software Licences, the NAO found that some departments had not even heard of the agreement.