Headlines: September 15th, 2000

The drive is on towards full electronic trading between public bodies and their suppliers. Targets have been set for 50% of transaction to be procured electronically by December 2001 and 100% by December 2002.Experience in the private sector has shown cost savings of 60% in procuring low value goods and services. A possibly greater motivation for public bodies is believed to be the ability to use the data generated by the on line transactions to analyse the procurement picture in a way that paper based systems do not allow. At the top level the analysis will reveal who is buying what from whom. The Office for Government Commerce knows that central government spends 13 billion pounds annually on procurement, but it does not know what the money is buying. This information will allow the Office to negotiate lower prices with suppliers. There will also be other benefits from analysis in the form of supply management, price accuracy and standard specification.

E-procurement systems currently operating include the MOD Defence Electronic Commerce Service with electronic messaging systems and online product catalogues; the Northern Ireland Government Purchasing Agency has a fully Electronic Requisitioning and Ordering System; The Buying Agency has a pilot online facility covering all the 500,000 products and services in its direct call-off contracts; the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency has an e-commerce tradingsystem with paperless requisitioning and purchasing, integrated to finance systems.

Planned systems include an on line shopping mall for councils which is being developed by the Improvement and Development Agency; an electronic procurement initiative is under way in MAAF to allow paperless requisitioning and purchasing and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office is purchasing an end-to-end e-procurement solution to be rolled out to all worldwide post