16 March 2006 | Anusha Bradley
E-procurement will save less money than predicted, according to local authorities in England.
A summary document published by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) last month showed estimates made by England's 388 councils have dropped by 18 per cent.
Last year they said they expected e-procurement to result in savings of £122 million a year by 2007-08. But figures in Implementing Electronic Government Return 2005 showed that estimate has fallen to £101 million a year.
An ODPM spokesman told SM the figures were forecasts and were therefore "liable to change". He said other areas of e-government, such as corporate services and transactions, have forecast increases.
Martin Scarfe, chairman of the National eProcurement Programme (NePP), told SM many councils may have underestimated the cost of implementing e-procurement and the time it takes to generate savings.
"It can take from three to five years to get savings," he said.
From next year, the ODPM expects councils to make more money in savings from e-government projects than they invest.
West Sussex County Council, Liverpool City Council and Essex County Council top the table of estimated savings, predicting sums of £48 million, £46 million and £43 million respectively.
The government said no breakdown is available showing which council leads on estimated e-procurement savings.
Scarfe said the NePP is to investigate why some authorities are making savings and others are not, and in which categories.