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Councils failing to identify e-procurement savings



FoI research shows that most local authorities are not finding records of savings from the National Procurement Strategy

Most local authorities are failing to identify any savings from following the National Procurement Strategy, of which e-procurement and e-tendering is one of the key features, according to newly published research.

Enterprise services platform provider the blur Group has highlighted the shortcoming with the publication of the results of a series of Freedom of Information requests to councils between March and May. They revealed that of 248 that had reviewed procedures since the strategy’s 2014 launch, 186 had failed to identify or had no record of savings.

Just 62 of these had made changes such as adopting digital technology in the process.

But overall it indicates a trend in which councils might be investing in technologies for areas such as procurement, but are not looking for evidence of a return on investment.

On a broader front, only 105 of the total 312 respondents had carried out a review to consider the strategy, 141 had carried out general reviews but without taking the strategy into account, and 66 had not performed any review.

Good performers

Some councils did emerge as taking it seriously, notably Lincolnshire, Salford, Lancashire, Herefordshire and Shropshire. They reported that they had adopted best practice in using digital procurement platforms and collecting evidence of savings, broken down into individual service areas and project delivery.

The National Procurement Strategy was launched by the Local Government Association in 2014. One its main recommendations is to make more of e-procurement for efficiency savings and to consider how e-invoicing can streamline administration processes.

Other features include encouraging suppliers to innovate, engaging with the market early and ensuring their procurement staff are more commercially minded.

Savings leaders

Phil Letts, chief executive officer of blur Group, said: “Some larger councils are demonstrating their willingness to adopt best practice, embrace new technology, work closely with procurement partners and their suppliers. They are, not surprisingly, the authorities able to identify the most significant savings.

“I urge all councils to commit the resource and time to understand and adopt the very best procurement practices. It’s an approach that ultimately protects key services. Every pound saved through better procurement is a pound saved for the taxpayer or a pound to re-invest in better public services.”

Image: Howard Lake, Colchester, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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