Mayor Marion Barry signed legislation yesterday aimed at bringing about better control and management of the city's troubled purchasing system.

"Procurement improvement is an overriding priority for my administration, comparable to the focus I have placed on financial management improvement over the last several years," Barry said in a statement released along with a purchasing study conducted for the city by the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA).

The bill provides for greater scrutiny of purchases by various city agencies, requires computerized data on what the city buys, and seeks to cut down on waste and abuse in purchases under $10,000.

The measure takes a slightly different approach than the one recommended by NAPA. The nonprofit group suggested that the mayor appoint a "procurement executive" to oversee and coordinate the purchasing practices of city agencies. The group's report said that lack of oversight was "the most glaring weakness in today's system" and that it would be a "full-time job" to provide such oversight.

The legislation signed by Barry represents a compromise between D.C. City Council members, who urged more drastic changes, and the mayor, who sought to "fine tune" the city's current system.

As drafted by council member William R. Spaulding (D-Ward 5), the bill would have consolidated the city's purchasing functions under one agency. Under the legislation approved, individual agencies will keep their purchasing power, but the D.C. Department of Administrative Services will insure that all purchases comply with city purchasing regulations.