More legal news
16 February 2006 | Rebecca Ellinor
A contracts register service to help local authorities plan and award deals is being piloted in London.
The service allows local authorities to access information on existing agreements between firms and councils.
By seeing what contracts are already set up, their expiry dates and contact details for those involved, organisations can choose to plan their work together. It is thought this will allow them to increase buying power and share scarce procurement resources. Suppliers can also use it to see when contracts expire.
Local authorities complete a spreadsheet of existing contracts and then either choose to share the information externally or use the site to manage contracts internally - both to monitor them and allow colleagues to see the deals it has in place.
Six local authorities in west London are piloting it and will decide in March if they wish to use it on a full-time basis.
Other councils can trial it for free for the first month. A set-up fee and subscription is then charged to those who wish to use it permanently.
The service was set up by the Procurement Agency for Essex (PAE), a self-funded cross-public sector organisation, and designed by ICT provider New Information Paradigms (NIP). It went live in Essex in November.
Peter Quinn, PAE director, said: "The contracts register enables colleagues to plan, control and share knowledge - from the smallest embryonic function, through to the most sophisticated purchasing environment. It is an extremely cost-effective planning tool, a facility to enable informed networking, and a snapshot of our contractual obligations and future windows of opportunity."
The tool helps local authorities meet a requirement in the National Procurement Strategy for Local Government that a register of contracts be established for use by councils and for members of the public to access.
The service can be found at www.contractsregister.com