Prison Service praised for £120m saving through Oracle e-procurement

HM Prison Service has been praised by MPs for saving £120 million after implementing an Oracle-based e-procurement system.

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HM Prison Service has been praised by MPs for saving £120 million after implementing an Oracle-based e-procurement system.

In an unusually positive report, the Committee of Public Accounts heaped praise on the Prison Service for saving the money after implementing a series of recommendations it had made in a highly critical report in 2003.

Since that report, the Prison Service has set up a new procurement strategy. This included employing services provider EDS to implement the new IT system – based on the Oracle e-business suite – and creating central and regional procurement teams.

The Prison Service had also completed a successful project tidying up its database to remove 9,000 dormant supplier accounts, the PAC noted in its report ‘The procurement of goods and services by HM Prison Service’.

There had been some problems phasing in the new IT system, the PAC noted, but most technical difficulties were addressed promptly and successfully. The Prison Service faced greater challenges winning the “hearts and minds” of staff to make sure they all used the system, but there were only “small pockets of local resistance”, the report noted.

Edward Leigh MP, chairman of the committee, said progress had been “substantial” and the IT implementation highly successful. “How often do you hear that?” he said.

As a result of the success of the changes made by the Prison Service, the procurement model will now be used by the Ministry of Justice, which will in turn take over as the central location for all justice procurement, including the Prison Service and the Probation Service.

“We think that the success of the model should be promoted still further," Leigh said, "and brought to the attention of senior management in other government organisations.”

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