10 June 2004 | David Arminas
University and college purchasers should use e-auctions more, according to the sector's procurement advisory body.
Peter Simmonds, chairman of Proc-HE's e-procurement best-practice group (EPG) and director of procurement at the University of Nottingham, said three trials had proved the case for e-auctions in higher education.
"Even in a hardened market, we achieved benefits," he said.
"We want to keep this momentum to encourage universities to take them up."
Consultancy Achilles has published a report on the auctions, which were commissioned by the EPG and saved nearly 20 per cent.
Imperial College London (ICL), Loughborough University, and the Scottish and Northern Universities Purchasing Initiative (Snupi) have run nine e-auctions with Achilles over the past year.
ICL saved up to 19 per cent on its £1.5 million budget for IT hardware for students and staff. Loughborough saved about 15 per cent on its £300,000 three-year budget for core paper goods and Snupi saved 19 per cent on its two-year budget of £1.5 million for potato products.
Simmonds said there were no plans for a central e-auction provider for all universities.
John Ritchie, director of the London Universities Purchasing Consortium, which ran an e-auction for electricity with the Energy Consortium consultancy last autumn, said e-auctions must be based on total costs and accurate prices from qualified suppliers.