Western Australia’s peak local government body will pay for all of the state’s councils to access a national source-to-contract procurement platform linking them to suppliers in their area.
The VendorPanel marketplace is currently used by 1,200 government and corporate clients to engage with suppliers and run procurement processes.
WALGA President Tracey Roberts says the peak has underwritten access to the platform making it available for free to all member councils.
She says she hopes the move will help out the local government sector while driving local economies during COVID-19 and recovery.
“As many businesses are facing a huge downturn and our economy moves towards a recession, local government has been called upon to do all they can in the area of economic development and support,” Cr Roberts said.
“This platform will make it easier for local government procurement staff to engage and source quotations from the local supplier market and will provide greater transparency over quotation processes.”
The platform lets users identify local suppliers and invite them to submit quotes and pitches across a range of categories including building products, transport and logistics, and manages communication between buyers and sellers.
According to an audit of regional councils that currently use the platform, it resulted in local suppliers being awarded work in 85 per cent of cases, WALGA says.
VendorPanel founder and CEO James Leathem said he hoped the partnership with WALGA would put local government buyers at the forefront of helping local economies rebound.
Insurance fund savings
In other measures, WALGA’s insurance and risk management fund LGIS will deliver up to $9 million in one-off savings to participating local governments to offset costs via a combination of accessing reserves and reducing capital.
Cr Roberts says the decision of the LGIS board would help many council achieve a zero rates increase.
“Local Governments are doing a tremendous amount to support their communities during COVID-19 including freezing rates and charges, rent relief and programs to support business and the vulnerable,” she said.
“WALGA has been investigating every possible means to support the sector deliver on these initiatives and led the discussion to free up as much capital as is financially responsible from the LGIS Scheme.”
An emergency meeting of the State Council of the WA Local Government Association at the end of last month endorsed a number of measures responding to COVID, including a zero rates increase and prioritising local procurement, and bringing forward infrastructure spending with “aggressive application of reserves and borrowing”.
WALGA says councils in the state have been hit hard by the pandemic and some 6300 Local Government employees in WA – or almost 30 per cent of the workforce – could lose their jobs.
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