17 November 2005 | Rebecca Ellinor
The purchasing arm of the Office of Government Commerce is aiming to change the face of public-sector business travel buying.
Under the scheme, purchasers should expect to benefit from better deals starting next year as OGCbuying.solutions is to offer framework contracts covering conference bookings to air travel.
Mike Thomas, head of travel at OGCbuying.solutions, said it was seeking to rationalise business travel buying across the wider public sector.
He told SM
: "We recognise we're probably about 10 years away from best practice and the first frameworks won't be perfect but at the moment we're [the public sector] using hundreds of travel agents and we don't have a good handle on how costs and deals compare."
OGCbuying.solutions expects the deals to lead to savings of between 3 and 10 per cent for the public purse on an initial £192 million spend.
The initial scope of the project has been split into seven major areas covering air and ferry travel; rail; vehicle hire; hotel and accommodation; conference services; taxis and travel management.
Invitations to tender for framework contracts in these areas have already been issued and bids were returned last week.
Major business travel operators including Amex told SM they couldn't comment on the process because they were involved in it. But Thomas said the move has been welcomed by the industry.
The first business travel contracts are expected to start at the end of April.