Savings estimated to be made through a police national procurement hub set up in 2011 have fallen ‘well short’ of expectations, according to a National Audit Office report.
The police procurement hub was set up in 2011 as a supplier catalogue to integrate back-office procurement transactions between forces and suppliers and consolidated procurement management information from forces.
The hub was expected to streamline the procurement process by enabling self-serve purchasing, easier access to approved suppliers, improve the take-up of nationally approved frameworks; improve data on force expenditure, and lead to the standardisation of equipment.
But, forces spent just £21m through the hub by February 2013, with estimated potential savings of just £580,000, well short of the £4.8m projected by the end of 2012-13, said the NAO.
The hub cost £7.5m to implement, with estimated savings of £50m over a five-year period. Just 43% of forces were using the hub by January 2012, compared with estimates of 100% by June 2013.
Forces collectively spent £1.7bn on purchasing goods and services in 2010-2011, with a further £633m of expenditure on ICT.
With the volume of transactions going through the hub in 2012 well below target, the Home Office plans to make it a legal requirement for forces to use it instead of alternative procurement services.
The Home Office’s efforts to cut procurement costs have so far have been hampered by the lack of timely, accurate and detailed data, added the report.
The report said the department should improve and formalise how it collects data on police forces’ procurement spending so it can support forces and obtain assurance effectively. In particular it needs to ensure that it makes data for 2011-12 available as soon as possible.
The report also acknowledged delays to the administering of its force-owned company to support ICT functions from spring 2012, which replaced the National Policing Improvement Agency.
The ICT company and the College of Policing may support police procurement, but this has yet to be decided, it said.