16 October 2003 | Colleen Harris
Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council is to set up a new procurement unit as part of a major overhaul after a damning report from the Audit Commission.
The commission's 2001 corporate governance report noted that because procurement was devolved to managers in individual service areas, it was fragmented and lacked co-ordination.
Lawrence Brazier, who was appointed corporate procurement manager in May, said the aim of the new unit was to strike a balance between centralisation and devolved authority.
Brazier, who is looking to recruit two procurement officers and an administrative employee for the unit, told SM: "We need to have a mixture of experience and new knowledge, including fresh ideas and innovative solutions to our current problems."
Since the 2001 report, the council has produced a Re-inventing Walsall Recovery Plan to review a number of problems uncovered in the inspection.
Guidance on best practice and ways of cutting transaction costs will be sought from purchasing advisory organisations, including IDeA, the local authority advisory service.
A trial is also under way for an e-tendering application, Tenders Online Procurement System, as part of the e-government agenda.
• IDeA is looking for volunteers to help carry out "fitness checks" on local authority purchasing practices.
Inspection teams from IDeA, including a procurement professional from the public sector volunteering their time, examine how councils purchase goods and services.
Volunteers will receive a day's training and all expenses.
If you are interested in volunteering, e-mail Lee Digings at IDeA at firstname.lastname@example.org