MPs slam "optimistic" e-targets

The Government has been slammed by MPs for setting and then failing to meet "over-optimistic" targets for buying online.

The Government has been slammed by MPs for setting and then failing to meet "over-optimistic" targets for buying online.

In a report on the Office of Government Commerce's (OGC) e-procurement strategy, the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee said the OGC's pledge to handle 90% of small transactions electronically had been "unrealistic". As a result, the targets were missed by "a large margin".

However, Peter Gershon chief executive of the OGC, said that other government departments' failure to modernise their financial and accounting systems were responsible for the failure.

Gershon revealed that a pilot scheme for a Web-based e-tendering system had slipped from August 2001 to spring 2002. He said it was taking significantly longer than expected to ensure the necessary levels of security and integrity for the new system.

Gershon warned that the £650,000 e-tendering pilot, which ended in February this year, would now not be rolled out across Whitehall. To do so would risk £27.7m being spent on a scheme that might not work and needed further development, he said.

The select committee's report said future targets set by the OGC "should be based on a more realistic assessment of what is achievable".

According to the OGC, just over half of low-value government transactions are conducted electronically.

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