Public e-buying on target

19 January 2006
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19 January 2006 | Anusha Bradley

All but three local councils in England are hitting minimum e-procurement standards set by the government.

Of 388 local authorities, 385 had installed a paperless ordering and invoicing system by 31 December, meeting the deadline, according to the National eProcurement Project (NePP).

Martin Scarfe, NePP board member and Local e-Government National Projects programme director, told SM councils that failed to meet the target would not be "named and shamed".

Instead, he said the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) would ask why they had failed and offer help in conjunction with the NePP, the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) and Office of Government Commerce (OGC).

Peter Howarth, Society of Procurement Officers chief executive, said: "I am surprised there are only three, because I know there are lots of councils - definitely more than three - that are struggling with e-procurement."

In addition to the minimum standard, the ODPM this month rated local authorities as "good" or "excellent" depending on the take up of e-procurement and best-practice criteria.

To achieve a "good" rating, councils had to have a single council-wide database for all business transactions. The survey found that 19 councils had yet to do this. "Good" councils also had to prove they were collaborating with other authorities on procurement and e-procurement. It found 11 were not.

Scarfe told SM: "That surprised us, because co-operation is a priority area and there has been a lot of work with the regional centres of excellence to involve everyone."

He said further analysis would be done to determine why some councils are not collaborating with others.

To be considered "excellent", council buyers and their suppliers have to be connected to an online marketplace, prove they encourage the use of smaller suppliers, and achieve procurement savings through the use of technology.

SMjan2006

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