19 December 2007 | Andy Allen
Wales is set to become the first part of the UK where all public sector buying is handled online, as part of a new e-procurement scheme.
The xchangewales project, launched by minister for finance and public procurement Andrew Davies, could save up to £200 million. Anticipated benefits include lower prices, increased use of corporate contracts and paperless ordering, along with reduced administration.
The project will allow every Welsh public sector organisation to find suppliers, place orders and pay for goods online. Davies said in a statement: "Wales will be the first place in the UK to deliver an electronic sourcing, ordering and payments system on a country wide 'shared services' basis."
Public sector bodies in Wales spend more than £4.5 billion annually on the procurement of goods, services and capital projects. The value of public sector contracts won by Welsh-based companies has risen from 35 percent to 49 percent in two years.
Seventeen organisations from within the NHS, local government and higher education have already put themselves forward as guinea pigs for the programme. The project is set to go "live" in spring 2008.