The Nation Procurement Strategy for local government launched in 2003 has secured commitment from council leaders, chief executives, members and officers towards making procurement a top priority. A ‘One Year On’ report from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister emphasises that although the strategy was in place well before the Gershon Efficiency Review, it has become one of the main vehicles for delivering efficiency savings.The report highlights achievements made by councils including better leadership and a higher profile for procurement. In 2000 only 13% of councils reported strong member involvement in procurement. By the end of 2004 70% of councils have a member-level procurement champion. Chief officer champions of the modernisation of procurement have been designated in 86% of councils. Local government procurement is big business with 40 billion pounds spent annually and 87% of councils now have a corporate procurement strategy in place compared to 27% in 2000.
For the future, it is proposed that the National Procurement Strategy should be extended through to 2007/08 to support the efficiency agenda and it should be integrated with the procurement strategies of the fire and police services. Delivering the strategy will require more to be done to engage elected members in the wider efficiency agenda. More effort is required to accelerate implementation of eProcurement. The focus should be on ePurchasing, that is procuring through to payment, eAuctions and eMarketplaces. The creation of shared services and joint procurement should be promoted. District councils in particular can benefit from the scale economies.