10 Procurement Information Systems
As electronic commerce is proven to provide meaningful benefits, it is a key aspect of government policy and efficient government. For several years the Scottish Procurement Directorate has driven the development and deployment of the ePS service, which incorporates a transactional purchasing system ( PECOS) as well as an eTender and eAuction module as the standard electronic procurement system. A system of this type offers internal efficiencies in terms of resources and skills. It also offers improved disciplines and a uniform interface to suppliers. In addition, it helps address and resolve the key concern of procurement information reporting both at the individual unit level and for the overall public sector.
Finally, one single system is a key pre-requisite for the aggregation of purchase volumes to support Best Value through collaborative purchasing. (Ref. 11.1.)
More relevant than focusing on detailed evaluations of other alternatives is the fact that ePS has all the hallmarks of a good system. It is operating effectively and the majority of organisations in the public sector have either joined or committed to joining ePS for the provision of their electronic purchasing system. Bridges have been designed and introduced to allow ePS to interact with other systems and in particular finance systems. As indicated above a single system is essential to capture the benefits of collaborative procurement.
eProcurement Scotland should be adopted as the standard within the Public Sector. All new installations of procurement functional systems should be a part of ePS. Other recently installed purchasing systems can be utilised for volume Category C transactions (Ref. 11) until replacement is cost justified. However, organisations in this situation should also join ePS for the procurement of Centre of Expertise contracted commodities and services in categories A and B. (Ref. 11).
Given the criticality of this dependency to savings, the complexity and challenge of systems installation and the scarce and fragile nature of available skills, an ePS Installation Task Force should be established under the leadership of the Scottish Executive's Procurement Directorate. This Task Force should be assigned as required to provide additional support and skills to the project teams at the individual organisation level. (Also see recommendation 8.7.)
Funding to encourage efficient government has been made available under different programmes but not always tied to projects that are sector-wide in their implementation and benefit. Serious consideration should be given to providing a specific sector-wide programme of turnkey funding to accelerate the acceptance and more rapid implementation of ePS and other procurement initiatives within any funding required to implement the recommendations of this review.