TechnologyGovernment picks XML for e-procurement

Government picks XML for e-procurement

The government's purchasing arm, Office of Government Commerce (OGC), will use XML technology, the preferred language for doing business over the internet, for firms selling into the public sector.

Link: XML will not hamper software vendors

Following a successful UK trial involving central and local government departments and suppliers, the OGC has finalised XML schema for ordering and invoicing.

The OGC said benefits from using eprocurement include contractual savings, real time financial information on what is being spent with each supplier, lower levels of ‘maverick’ or ‘off-contract’ purchasing and improved commercial relationships with suppliers.

The agency is now recommending that the XML schemas are used by public sector bodies for e-ordering and e-invoicing.

These allow both public sector buyers and suppliers to exchange purchasing information, irrespective of their back-end systems, and the OGC now wants vendors to include the schemas in updates to their software.

‘The intention is to get this embedded in enterprise resource planning systems, so that suppliers can bid for government contracts without having to invest in upgrading their IT,’ said an OGC spokesman.

The OGC has been working with the government IT champions, the Office of the e-Envoy and industry body, the Business Applications Software Development Association (Basda) to develop the standards.

‘Participating government departments and suppliers have found the XML technology very easy to implement and use,’ said Dennis Keeling, chief executive of Basda, in a statement.

Basda members taking part in the trial include Microsoft, Oracle and SAP. Bristol County Council and the Department for Education and Skills were among nine public sector bodies involved. The trials demonstrated that businesses were able to complete online transactions with the participants, using the ‘order’ and ‘invoice’ XML schemas. The schemas are a modified version of Basda’s eBIS-XML Data Suite, which is used by over 100 European organisations.

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