Government claims SME supplier success

The government has claimed that the volume of IT contracts being won by SME suppliers has seen a dramatic increase during the course of 2011. At Monday's The Crown and Suppliers: A new way of working, procurement conference in London the government's chief procurement officer John Collington said th

The government has claimed that the volume of IT contracts being won by SME suppliers has seen a dramatic increase during the course of 2011.

At Monday's The Crown and Suppliers: A new way of working, procurement conference in London the government's chief procurement officer John Collington said that while few SMEs had been able to win bids in the past, things were now changing.

The government's latest figures suggest that 44% of government contracts signed in September were with SMEs, compared to a paltry 5% in January.

Small and medium sized service providers and resellers have long found it especially hard to win government business as buyers revert to the safe option of buying from the big incumbent suppliers.

Collington talked of the cultural barriers to be overcome if SMEs were to contribute more to the government, declaring the phrase "no one ever got sacked for buying IBM" a thing of the past.

Collington went on to say that government procurement policies must support SME growth by bringing down both the length and cost of procurement processes and training government staff to give them better commercial know-how.

This, he said, will stop them just awarding contracts to big suppliers and asking them to manage other suppliers involved in the projects.

"We are investing in improving procurement people and supplier management internally," said Collington.

He also called for the government to be more open about its planned projects to help suppliers prepare their bids. As part of this move, the government is now publishing contract pipelines and will update this every six months.

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