Treasury minister Angela Eagle has urged public sector bodies to procure more goods and services through joint participation in online reverse auctions.
Collaborative e-auctions, where buyers pool their requirements and invite suppliers to bid down the price, can achieve savings of up to 50% on the price a single body might pay without an e-auction, according to the Office of Government Commerce.
But last year, the powerful Commons public accounts committee warned that central government organisations had made "little use of e-procurement". The MPs had earlier heard Allison Littley, chief executive of the OGCbs government procurement agency admit she did not know how much public sector procurement takes place online.
Eagle watched a live e-auction for IT hardware – part of a programme of online auctions sponsored by OGC – in which 24 organisations collectively achieved savings of £5.2m. "Innovation in the way government buys goods and services is key in securing value for money alongside world class service delivery,” she said.
“I am calling upon all departments and agencies to look at how they might use e-auctions as part of their procurement strategy and how they can make even greater value for money savings by joining up with other organisations to buy collectively."
In June, the largest ever reverse e-auction in the UK public sector saved £100m on office supply costs across seven central government departments and the Metropolitan Police.