Agencies skip eMarketplace
Fewer government agencies than expected have used a taxpayer-funded electronic marketplace to buy goods from suppliers, officials admit.
However, they deny that the "eMarketplace" has been a flop, saying it is fulfilling an important function by helping agencies compare products.
The Economic Development Ministry originally developed eMarketplace to let agencies procure products and services such as cars, stationery, computers, power and travel that must usually be bought from approved suppliers through centrally negotiated "whole-of-government" contracts.
Agencies spent $194 million purchasing products and services through such "all-of-government contracts" last year.
A source said the ministry - now part of the Business, Innovation and Employment Ministry - spent a "small fortune" on the electronic portal and it was little used.
A ministry spokesman initially refused to say how much eMarketplace cost to develop, saying that was "commercially sensitive", but later said the figure was $144,000.
He said it had been used to buy 4000 items valued at $400,000 in the past two years.
Usage was not as high as expected because many agencies, especially larger ones, were preferring to order products direct from approved suppliers using their software systems, he said.
The source said that was "always going to be the case".
"Where the products or services are suitable to order through a portal, the suppliers have their own and that's what the customers use."
However, the spokesman said eMarketplace was more than a buying tool. "Many agencies are using the site to compare products side-by-side before using traditional channels to purchase them.
"Agencies tell us this feature of eMarketplace is providing them with real benefits and is enabling them to make smarter buying decisions."
The ministry was keeping a "watching brief" on the marketplace and would look at modifying it if agencies indicated additional functionality or capability was required, he said. It was developed by Auckland software company Conexa.
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