The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Local Government Association have devised a blueprint to speed the movement of councils towards electronic procurement of goods and services. The draft National Strategy document, which is open for consultation until 19 September 2003, sets out a vision for 2006 where councils will have forged partnerships with a range of public, private and voluntary sector suppliers, be obtaining greater value from all categories of procurement expenditure through their own procurement strategies and be stimulating markets and using their buying power creatively to drive innovation in the design of services.The strategy identifies the need for a cultural shift in the whole concept of procurement. Councils in England spend some 40 billion pounds on procurement annually and co-ordinating this immense purchasing power could bring substantial benefits. The draft makes it clear that this market position needs to be handled well to make best use of the leverage and deliver the potential savings.
The main purpose of the draft National Strategy is to draw together all the strands of the e-procurement agenda to create a more coherent strategy for local government procurement and to provide a clear route map for councils through the maze of regulations, recommendations, expectations and guidance available.
Training is a key element of the strategy. The ODPM and the LGA intend to pump-prime national skills training programmes in procurement and project management to be delivered locally in partnership with IDeA, 4Ps, the Employers Organisation and a range of training partners. The programmes will be aimed at members and senior managers as well as procurement project teams.
Market Intelligence is vital for successful procurement. ODPM research has identified areas in which councils feel their information needs are not being met. They include benchmarking data, potential partnership models, best practice examples, legal guidance and contact/knowledge exchanged. The ODPM Strategic Partnering Taskforce now distributes an electronic newsletter to all councils which pulls together many different sources of information which are out there but which remain unco-ordinated and are not easily identified.
The draft document calls for leadership and a commitment from the top to manage procurement strategically. This would require councils adopting a corporate procurement strategy that is owned by members and senior managers and with regular implementation monitoring.