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Schools: Procurement

Volume 472: debated on Wednesday 27 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what the effects on costs has been of the introduction of the Online Procurement for Educational Needs system; and what the target savings were. (186974)

The aim of the OPEN pathfinder was:

to rigorously test the system for reliability, appropriateness, ease of use, and integration with schools' financial management systems;

to ascertain the user-opinion from a small number of schools using OPEN to determine if it should be made more widely available for schools across England; and

to engage with suppliers to understand functionality and user needs from their perspective when trading with schools, and encourage signup to OPEN.

In order for a greater number of transactions to take place, a greater number of schools' suppliers also need to be available on OPEN for them to transact with. As this was a pathfinder, limited resources were available to engage with the educational supplier marketplace and effort was concentrate on those suppliers nominated by schools that they usually traded with in the first instance.

As such, no savings target was set for the pathfinder phase.

At present savings are only made in the form of transactional savings, i.e. the amount of time being saved by schools’ purchasers compared to that where a ‘traditional' transaction (their usual method of purchasing) would have taken place. The process of developing the methodology for savings made on the price of goods being purchased is still under development.

Due to the limited number of suppliers on OPEN during this pathfinder phase, the Department expected rates would be lower than could be reasonably expected with full take-up by both schools and suppliers.

For the period 15 March 2007 to 31 January 2008


From the processing of orders (630 orders x £3.50)


From the processing of requisitions (367 requisitions x £21 00)


From the processing of invoices (82 x £2,50)


Total transactional savings