E-auctions save government cash

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The use of e-auctions is saving the government as much as 40 per cent on its purchasing, the head of the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) told attendees of a Procurement Solutions conference in London yesterday.

Chief executive Nigel Smith said the last IT hardware e-auction in March saved 40 per cent in cost and brought in better quality equipment. "E-auctions are not about getting the cheapest, it's about delivering a specification," he explained, saying that quality, service and delivery, whole life cost and the environmental footprint of procured items or services must all be considered.

But cost is still a major consideration. "It is quite an efficient process if you do it right," Smith said.

Smith called on public sector bodies to make better use of e-auctions, saying government groups don't make as much use it as private sector organisations. While he said a third of government procurement is being considered for e-auctions, he added that "it's just one of many tools and doesnt fit every situation."

Last year, the OGC said that local government bodies had saved 7 million on IT hardware.

He added that procurement - be it IT or otherwise - is central to government, not least because as much as half of government spending is on third party goods and services. "It's the heart of government, the heart of policy, the heart of delivery, and the heart of efficiency."