Government Procurement Service (GPS), formerly Buying Solutions and OGC, was established to help public sector bodies find a way through the complex European laws on procurement by centralising spending on common goods and by doing so, cut down the time and cost associated with procurement.
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The EU Procurement Regulations are designed to encourage competition and innovation, however, in certain cases they can result in lengthy and complicated purchasing processes. GPS aims to identify certain categories of goods and services that could be procured at a national level and reduce some of this burden.
Capita’s software services division has been awarded the following Lots and Frameworks:
Framework RM865, Local Government Software Applications Solutions Framework
- Lot 1: Management and Finance – revenues, benefits and finance software application solutions
- Lot 2: Management and Finance – performance management, planning and decision making software application solutions
- Lot 3: Social Care and Education - social care related software application solutions
- Lot 5: Social Care and Education - libraries, museums and leisure related software application solutions
- Lot 7: Communities - social housing software application solutions
- Lot 9: Environment and Public Protection - highways and transport software application solutions.
Framework RM713, Software Application Solutions
- Lot 1: Bespoke Applications
- Lot 4: HR, Finance, Procurement, Transactions Management and ERP Solutions
Best practice procurement
Suppliers are only admitted onto GPS Frameworks following a full EU procurement tender based on quality and price. The Framework is then made available to central government departments and other public sector bodies from which to purchase.
Compass Point Business Services (a shared service established by the South Holland and East Lindsey District Councils) used the Framework to purchase a number of Capita’s software modules, including their revenues and benefits system. Marcus Hobbs, transformation lead at Compass Point Business Services, explains the process:
“Suppliers are pre-qualified so it is simply a question of identifying the right Framework for your needs. You then publish notice of your requirements and receive expressions of interest from businesses.
“We invited suppliers in on one day and elaborated our needs. This helped us quickly identify suppliers who were keen to work with us. We could then evaluate written responses and make a choice within a set timeframe.
“The great thing is that the whole process from beginning to end is pre-defined for you, conforming to best practice so you can be assured that you have followed the correct procedure legally.”
Keeping it simple and saving time
The simplicity of the system and the pre-selection process means procurement is faster and tendering is more targeted.
This was the experience of Christchurch Borough Council and East Dorset District Council. After receiving a challenging audit, they used the GPS when they made the decision to move quickly to a shared service model in their housing department.
Paul Downton, information manager at Christchurch BC explains, “We had a very tight timeframe of six to nine months to get this up and running with many complex decisions to make. One of these was which software would support our new shared service. A traditional tender process would have taken too long if we wanted to meet our projected start date.”
The quickest route to market was to go through GPS. After asking businesses on the Local Government Software Application Solutions Framework to tender, the authority purchased Capita’s OPENHousing housing management software system.
“Using GPS enabled us to purchase software for the new shared service within a couple of months, which was half the time of the normal tender process. If it was not for the GPS, we would have been unable to meet the targets we needed to achieve.”
Cutting costs and getting value for money
The shorter timescales can mean using GPS saves money in administering the tender process. Competitive rates have already been secured from businesses to ensure value for money.
“Working for a comparatively small authority, we benefit from the economies of scale that have been negotiated into the framework agreements. If we were going out ourselves as a small organisation with no more than 500 users, we would not get the same commercial rates as we do through the GPS,” says Paul at Christchurch BC.
Jane Lubbock, head of business improvement at Oxford City Council, used a GPS framework to re-tender the council’s rents and revenues application: “With GPS we were able to procure an upgrade to our software. This is a key system for the council and the ability to procure and implement an upgrade needed to be done without affecting the delivery of the service. Using a GPS framework we were able to re-tender and renegotiate a new contract with Capita, which included several new modules at an extremely competitive price.”
All GPS commercial procurement solutions are compliant with the new EU procurement directives, as well as UK procurement regulations. Pre-agreed terms and conditions offer local authorities sound contractual safeguards.
“The fact that there is a standard contract, which is legally compliant, helps save time,” agrees Paul at Christchurch BC.
A complete purchasing solution
In 2010-11, GPS managed £7.6bn of procurement, delivering significant and sustainable cost reductions to the public sector. As budgets and staffing continue to be squeezed it is likely the trend for simplified procurement will continue, if not increase.
“GPS provides a complete tool kit. There are certainly times when a full tender process is what you need, but if you are looking for proven technologies, this is a highly effective way of finding them. It is a quick, efficient and effective way of purchasing,” says Marcus Hobbs at Compass Point Business Services.
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