26 May 2011 | Angeline Albert
An electronic marketplace and purchase-to-pay system for police forces in England and Wales is expected to save £30 million over the next six years.
The ‘national police procurement hub’ has been set up by the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA), based on the positive experience of public sector bodies that use similar technology.
The online tool, which is now live, allows forces to conduct the end-to-end process of ordering, buying, invoicing and paying for goods and services from approved contracts.
Initially the top 500 goods and services based on number of transactions will be available on the hub. This includes items such as uniforms, body armour, office supplies, catering, facilities management, HR services, IT and fleet vehicles. The contracting authority - the individual force, the NPIA or Buying Solutions - that set up the contract will be responsible for putting the deal onto the system.
All 43 forces have committed to using the hub, and those who have already invested in e-procurement software will be able to integrate it into the marketplace. Every force is expected to be using the system by June 2012.
Set-up costs are expected to be around £20 million with benefits worth in excess of £50 million, leaving a net benefit of £30 million over six years.
According to the NPIA, improved contract management through better visibility will save £18.6 million, with a reduction in maverick spend and increased compliance to approved suppliers delivering a saving of £11.5 million. Speeding up the RFP process will provide another £11.5 million, while transferring responsibility to maintain the catalogue to suppliers will save £14.5 million. Cutting out the use of paper and wasted staff effort will save a further £352,000.
The system is free via the internet, with set-up costs covered by the NPIA through the Home Office’s systems improvement strategy programme. However, from 1 April 2012 there will be a flat fee of £25,000 per year for each force. Forces should contact the NPIA for details of the scheme.