21 July 2005 | Rebecca Ellinor
Public-sector buyers could benefit from improved supplier deals as the Office of Government Commerce's procurement aims to make its prenegotiated contracts easier to use.
OGCbuying.solutions hopes the move will encourage more public-sector organisations to use the deals. The change will also help the agency meet revised efficiency targets.
Under the plan, OGCbuying.solutions will offer public-sector purchasers products and services through updated contracts, or framework agreements, with hundreds of suppliers.
The planned changes follow consultations with existing customers and reflect changes in European Union procurement rules. The amendments will see OGCbuying.solutions update existing deals, establish new contracts and rebrand some services.
The first of the revised deals will be launched in October.
Increased take-up of the contracts is required in order for the agency to meet this year's target of £400 million in value-for-money savings.
Stephen Heard, director of frameworks, said: "These new agreements comply with all UK and EU legislation, including the new EU Consolidated Procurement Directive, the Alcatel judgement and the Freedom of Information Act, which allows the customer to use them without worrying about any challenges."
A spokeswoman for OGCbuying.solutions said: "We are hoping the move will help to increase uptake thanks to more specialist offerings.
"We are offering new initiatives - such as travel and e-sourcing - that we hope will help."
She said it was particularly interested in increasing business with local authorities.
Rob Hann, director of legal and joint services at procurement advisory body 4ps, said the group had advised OGCbuying.solutions that it needed to talk to local authorities and find out what they needed for the contracts to be used more. It seemed to have done so now, he said.
"A lot of councils have used [the contracts] and had positive things to say," he added.
The agreements are currently in force for around 8 per cent of the available public-sector spend, equal to around £2 billion of the total £24.3 billion annual budget.