L-Cat super-panel met with disdain by the public sector

Central Government’s super-panel L-Cat is preparing to roll out to local government, but it faces receiving short shrift from some local authority lawyers.

The body that organises central procurement, OGCbuying.solutions, is running limited trials with local authorities, but it has yet to convince many central government departments of its worth.

The head of legal at one district council told The Lawyer: “I wouldn’t really like to have to use a panel of firms that was dictated to me by an organisation that I’ve never heard of.”

OGCbuying.solutions teamed up with the Department for Education and Skills and the Treasury Solicitor’s Department in 2003 to launch a legal panel of seven categories, which it hoped would be used by as many public authorities as possible.

The take-up has been slow, with many central government departments sticking with their existing advisers.

While the IT panel firms shared £1m in fees in the first eight months of L-Cat’s existence, DLA, which is not on the panel, continues to pick up an enormous amount of public sector work. Government departments spent £2m on the general commercial matters panel, but just £27,000 on HR and £2,500 on construction.

The head of legal at one county council said: “L-Cat got into a bit of a mess. We don’t know where they’re up to. If they wanted to approve advisers, we would ignore that. It seems to have gone off the boil.”
OGCbuying.solutions was unavailable for comment.