Security concerns have forced the UK government to abandon plans for the introduction of compulsory electronic tendering by the end of this year.
The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) is currently piloting an internet-based electronic tendering service, TenderTrust, with 10 departments.
The service, which uses digital certificates and smartcards, will enable the secure delivery of tenders across the web and will authenticate all parties to the transaction.
But chief secretary to the Treasury Andrew Smith admitted: "The evidence from the pilot shows that further work is needed to maintain the right level of security and to increase take-up of the service across government.
"We will therefore revise our target of sending and receiving 100 per cent of tenders electronically by December 2002."
A spokesman for the OGC could not say what the new deadline will be. "The information gained from the pilot needs to be incorporated into the system. This is why the target will be reviewed and, in light of this, a decision will be taken."
The OGC also announced the launch of seven new e-pilot contracts which will run until 31 July, with the aim of establishing government as an "intelligent" user of e-procurement.
The department said that one of the potential achievements of the pilots will be to reduce concerns over the security implications of online purchasing and payment transactions for government and its suppliers, which it described as a "significant barrier to the take-up of electronic services".
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