Headlines: August 24th, 2000

Local government is to get its own online shopping mall that it is claimed could re-route millions of pounds from costs and administration into investment in local priorities. The Local Government Information House Ltd (LGIH), on behalf of the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA), is seeking partners to establish an electronic procurement portal.The project aims to create the shop window for virtually the whole 25 billion pound market for goods and services bought by English and Welsh councils each year. These councils currently spend over 2 billion pounds per annum administering transactions for these purchases. The IDeA estimates that the creation of a web-based system to manage ordering and payments will save about 15% of this 27 billion pound total by reducing the costs of items purchases and the costs of administration. The IDeA says the shopping mall is not intended to compete with existing arrangements, but will link to existing electronic catalogues allowing them to be searched with a single query.

One feature of the system likely to be unique is that each participating council can decide its own criteria for deciding what is a ‘best buy’. The mall will be free to access. A pathfinder prospectus to attract potential private sector collaborators can be found on the web at www.idea.gov.uk/marketplace