11 August 2006 | Rebecca Ellinor
A plan to procure on a national basis some of the goods and services used by councils has been launched by the Regional Centres of Excellence (RCE).
All nine regional directors have backed the national procurement programme, which aims to transform local government buying and save millions of pounds that can be invested in frontline services.
Procurement action groups (PAGs) will be created to deliver efficiency gains in key markets. Detailed plans for postal services and energy are already under way and the regional directors will also look at ICT hardware, telecoms and temporary staff.
Each PAG will prepare "how to" guides to help councils get the best deals. The regional centres will also help local authorities transfer their spend onto better contracts.
A team led by Steve Holland, the former director of the East of England RCE, has been established to oversee the programme, which includes developing an e-procurement strategy and ensuring innovative procurement ideas are replicated across the country.
Tim Byles, national procurement champion and chairman of the chief executives' task force, said: "With a tough Spending Review forecast for 2007, the pressure to deliver more efficiencies will mount further. This programme should give local government greater confidence that the tools are there to help them."
Holland said: "The programme will ensure that we fully engage the procurement community in local government so that they can lead the transformation of procurement."