23 February 2007 | Antony Barton
UK fire and rescue authorities (FRAs) are likely to cut procurement spend after signing up to an agreement to purchase IT and communications more cheaply.
The shared services agreement between BT, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the authorities' buying agency, Firebuy, will allow the FRAs to use the purchasing power of the Defence Fixed Telecommunications Service - a £250 million a year deal between BT and the MoD. It will cover products such as mobile services and video-audio conferencing. The FRAs will also be entitled to round-the-clock BT support for any communications services bought through Firebuy.
A BT study of 10 FRAs revealed the agreement could save about £400,000 on fixed telephony alone in England and Wales; almost 20 per cent of their total annual spend.
Firebuy, set up last April, is also negotiating a clothing deal for the FRAs. Steve Taylor, workstream director for the Integrated Clothing Project (ICP) at Firebuy, told supplymanagement.com that ICP was evaluating four tender submissions and would soon choose its preferred bidder, giving a recommendation to Firebuy on 15 March.
Last year, fire and rescue services were told they needed to "rigorously" improve procurement practices to ensure they received better value for money. A report from the Audit Commission found more than two-thirds of services achieved the minimum in value-for-money requirements, but only three performed "well above" this level (Web news, 19 January 2006).