Office of Government Commerce
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OGC to establish first pan-government e-auction Centre of Excellence

The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) yesterday announced that it is to set up the first pan-government e-auction Centre of Excellence to increase the impact of e-auctions in the public sector. The centre will have a remit to provide co-ordination and support for e-auctions across the wider public sector, particularly where there is scope for increased collaboration.

A number of e-auction programmes exist across Whitehall and the wider public sector, and the centre will look to harness greater efficiencies from these through supporting the co-ordination of resource, establishing a consistency of approach, and providing a platform for coalitions. It will aim to influence public sector spend of £820m and help achieve savings of over £250m by the end of 2010/11.

Speaking about the announcement, Nigel Smith, Chief Executive of the OGC said:

"The new Centre of Excellence will systematically enhance the great work currently being achieved by existing public sector e-auction programmes through providing greater focus for consistency and best practice. It will also look to foster opportunities for better collaboration, marking a significant positive step forward in achieving the maximum potential outcomes from public sector e-auction activities."

The Centre of Excellence will commence activity next year and build on existing activity, working closely with Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnerships, Buying Solutions and other Professional Buying Organisations to recruit participants, sponsor the activity and support implementation. Where suitable, it will extend specific category support to the OGC's Collaborative Procurement programme, aiming to arrange two e-auctions per month, in addition to providing the focus and support for public sector e-auction activity more widely.

The Pro5 group of Professional Buying Organisations will be supporting the OGC's e-auction programme and planning for a specific e-auction for local government in ICT hardware is already underway and will be built from a Pro5 framework

The announcement of the e-auction Centre of Excellence follows the recent publication of the pan-Government policy on the use of electronic systems to support procurement activity. This new policy requires public sector organisations to make progress towards achieving the outcomes outlined in the HM Treasury's Operational Efficiency Programme (OEP) by maximising existing public sector investment in e-procurement systems and tools. The benefits this investment should create include:

  • Increased value for money;
  • Improved management information;
  • Better visibility of collaborative contracts;
  • Increased process efficiency;
  • Enhanced operational capacity;
  • Prompt payment of suppliers.

Speaking about the new policy, David Thomas, Commercial Director at HM Revenue and Customs said:

"I welcome this policy document, which covers a very important but complex professional area. Across the public sector I can see organisations are at very different stages of e commerce maturity and we need this policy to help us to converge on a consistent model."

To access the e-procurement policy visit the OGC website.

Notes to editors

About e-auctions

E-auctions, sometimes called reverse auctions or procurement auctions, allow suppliers to bid against each other online in order to win a contract. They should factor in both price and quality measures to arrive at the most competitive bid and can deliver highly competitive pricing and, often, considerable savings compared to existing contracts.

Since September 2005, the OGC has managed a rolling programme of IT hardware e-auctions. To date, 11 of these specific e-auctions have been completed, delivering savings of £50m (31%) and enabling 600 public sector organisations to access significant savings for desktops, laptops, printers and servers.

About the e-auction Centre of Excellence

The Centre of Excellence is being set up in response to a recommendation in HM Treasury's Operational Efficiency Programme (OEP) report. It will have a remit to provide central co-ordination and support for e-auctions across the wider public sector, particularly where there is scope for increasing collaboration. It will extend OGC's e-auction support to suitable categories beyond ICT.

During 2010/11, the aim is to arrange two e-auctions a month across suitable categories and influence between £15m-£30m expenditure each time, generating savings of around 30%. In total, we are aiming to influence public sector spend of £820m and help achieve savings of over £250m by the end of 2010/11.

About Pro5

The Pro5 group of Professional Buying Organisations - The Eastern Shires Purchasing Organisation, Central Buying Consortium, West Mercia Supplies, North Eastern Purchasing Organisation and Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation have agreed to work together as the 'Pro5'.  These five PBOs with a combined purchasing power in excess of £2bn offer local authorities outstanding deals in key markets.

About Buying Solutions

Buying Solutions is the national procurement partner for UK public services, enabling customers to improve value for money and efficiency. It is an Executive Agency of the Office of Government Commerce in the Treasury and delivers over 500,000 products and services through more than 1,000 suppliers in Professional Services, Property & Office Solutions, Energy, Travel, ICT and e-commerce. More details are available on the website:

About OGC

The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) is an independent office of HM Treasury, established to help government deliver best value from its spending. The OGC works with central government departments and other public sector organisations to ensure the achievement of six key goals:

  • Delivery of value for money from third party spend;      
  • Delivery of projects to time, quality and cost, realising benefits;     
  • Getting the best from the government's £30bn estate;
  • Improving the sustainability of the government estate and operations, including reducing carbon emissions by 12.5% by 2010-11, through stronger performance management and guidance;     
  • Helping achieve delivery of further government policy goals, including innovation, equality, and support for small and medium enterprises (SMEs);     
  • And driving forward the improvement of central government capability in procurement, project and programme management, and estates management through the development of people skills, processes and tools.

OGC provides policy standards and guidance on best practice in procurement, projects and estate management, and monitors and challenges departments' performance against these standards, grounded in an evidence base of information and assurance. It promotes and fosters collaborative procurement across the public sector to deliver better value for money and better public services; and it provides innovative ways to develop government's commercial and procurement capability, including leadership of the Government Procurement Service.

Media contact:
Michael Dunning, Media Relations Manager, OGC
T: 020 7271 1318
M: 07771 815245


Contact details:
OGC Service Desk
Tel: 0845 000 4999

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