A centralised database of public sector contracts has been launched in a bid to make collaboration between public buyers easier.
The online tool claims to be the first searchable contract database for the public sector, allowing buyers to profile potential contracts before going to tender and identify opportunities to collaborate.
It has been developed by the Public Purse, a think tank, to complement the existing collaborative efforts by public sector organisations by removing the barriers of poor access to spend data and restrictions on the type of spend data public buyers can access.
The Public Purse is running several of campaigns on a number of social, economical and environmental issues in the UK, of which its campaign on public sector spend is one. The toolkit is available through a subscription, which pays for the upkeep of the service as well as contributing to the organisation’s other projects.
“Yes, you do currently collaborate, yes, you do currently have frameworks, you do have your local organisations and local associations that are set up to join together organisations,” said Andrew Smith, project lead at the Public Purse. “That’s brilliant, but it can be a little bit restrictive.”
Smith said public sector buyers are often restricted to data within their region, their sector or their type of organisation. “What [our platform] does is it opens up all of those doors and it can put you in touch with the right person, in the right organisation at the right time.” The data the tool uses is mostly already in the public domain, said Smith, and the toolkit helps make it accessable.
“This data is already effectively out there for the public sector but they just haven’t centralised it, and that’s the work that we’ve done,” he said.
The Public Purse estimates the public sector could save £10m on mobile phone contracts alone through better collaboration, based on its data covering public contracts coming up for tender and conversations with suppliers about how they might adapt to greater collaboration and joint spend in the public sector.
“That’s just asking them theoretical questions at this point based on, 'What level of discount could you offer?' or, 'What level of savings do you think the public sector could make based on the profiling of these types of contracts?'” said Smith.
“It’s savings that can be made even if you don’t use our system. Our system helps you identify these savings.”
The platform, Be Connected, is currently consolidating public sector contract data on IT spend, but Smith said there are opportunities to expand into other areas.
The organisation is also looking for feedback from buyers to improve the tool and Smith said a number of organisations had committed to working with the organisation on developing case studies in the new year.
“We’re really trying to work with the public sector… This is a system that we want people to look at and to give us their feedback about,” he said.
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