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E-Marketplaces Back on the E-Agenda

5 August 2003

Councils should be making greater use of electronic marketplaces to reduce their procurement costs and by 2007 all should have access to one.

This recommendation was put forward last week in the latest draft of what could form the Government's national strategy to improve procurement skills and practice in local authorities.

The proposed three-year strategy is designed to realise the full potential of local government procurement, which last year was worth an estimated UKP40 billion in England alone. Widespread adoption of e-procurement is seen as crucial to its success - although the consultation paper is careful to highlight that this must be part of a clear procurement strategy and "should not be implemented in isolation". In developing a business case for e-procurement, local authorities are advised to highlight the anticipated benefits and assess, for example, areas such as "pricing benefits", "more effective supplier management" and "transactional benefits."

The Government also wants to see greater partnership, with larger councils looking to design solutions such as e-marketplaces that support their smaller neighbours. "E-marketplaces have an important role to play in making framework agreements and contracts more widely accessible across local government, particularly to those smaller councils that lack procurement expertise", the document states.

To promote the development of eProcurement locally, plans are in place to establish a new national network of regional centres of excellence, working with the E-Procurement National Project, who will take on this responsibility. The proposals are subject to public consultation until 19 September 2003, and in particular, responses are sought on how well the draft strategy addresses local authorities' needs "for continuing to develop innovation in procurement through e-Government."

The consultation document can be accessed from the LGA website.

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