Councils are not tracking e-procurement successes or risks

Research has shown that councils have failed to implement best practice for choosing suppliers and are not tracking the savings

IT procurement

A report by Blur Group has revealed that councils are not sufficiently implementing best practice when it comes to procuring new technologies, nor are they producing detailed enough reports to demonstrate the savings provided by new innovations.

This leaves them open to procurement fraud, because they are unable to identify if they have been subject to such activity.

"Some 15-20 per cent of organisational spend is unmanaged, often uncontracted and so uncontrolled," Philip Letts, CEO of Blur Group, said. "That's an incredible amount of public money. When looking at their procurement strategy, councils can no longer consider going digital as optional...This shift to digital will allow councils to tap into bigger and better supply bases, speed up sourcing and delivery of services, whilst immediately cutting costs without cutting public services."

Despite the National Procurement Strategy being produced in 2014, councils are still not meeting the demands of the initiative, such as introducing e-procurement portals and e-tendering to make the process more efficient.

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Only a quarter of the councils revealed they have used such platforms to make the process fairer and easier on teams, while only a third have carried out a review to consider the strategy and make improvements to their procurement procedures.

A fifth of councils that responded to a Freedom of Information Act request by the Blur Group revealed they have never performed a review of procurement procedures.

"Progress is being made, but it is patchy," Letts added. "It is clear that council leaders and executives need to do more to get to grips with their spend. We know financial settlements for local Government are tight.

"When key public services are under pressure to the point of cutbacks and closures in areas as vital as adult social care and housing, this has to be a priority. A strategic response to managing spend and better procurement has to come quickly and from the top."

Lincolnshire County Council, Salford City Council, Lancashire County Council, Hereford City Council and Shropshire County Council ranked best for their understanding of the procurement process, demonstrating their knowledge of best practice, and evidence of the money they have saved. They were also able to provide reports that detailed how staff were familiar with the processes too.

"Some larger councils are demonstrating their willingness to adopt best practice, embrace new technology, work closely with procurement partners and their suppliers," Letts finished. "They are, not surprisingly, the authorities able to identify the most significant savings."

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