12 January 2007 | Antony Barton
The North West Centre of Excellence (NWCE) has launched an online contracts register that enables local authorities to share information on current and future purchasing contracts.
The Vault, launched last month, includes the value and size of the contract, its duration and the name of the supplier. The website was trialled by nine local authorities in Cheshire from November and is now available to all 46 councils in the north-west.
Olly Baker, NWCE project manager, told Supplymanagement.com that it was collaborating councils' contract information for inclusion on the site. It is currently tackling contracts worth £50,000 and above, seven of which are on the website. He added that all contracts of this value should be available on the website by the end of March, when councils would be in a position to combine buying power and secure better deals from suppliers.
"The NWCE will provide the resources to help upload the information until the end of March and then councils will be responsible for ensuring data is kept up to date," Baker said. "We will monitor the website and investigate any problems but the NWCE itself does not have the resources to continue uploading it after that point."
The NWCE is working on an online service that will allow suppliers to register for local authority contracts and allow councils to advertise the services they require. It will incorporate The Vault and may include an online purchasing market. The NWCE is interviewing suppliers for inclusion in the portal and hopes to launch the service later in the year.