SMEs will have direct access to local and central government business opportunities through a national web portal set up by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) and the Small Business Service (SBS).
The SBS launched the open competitive tendering process for the provision of the national web portal service to make it much easier for smaller businesses and government buyers to do business.
The portal service is expected to become the main gateway to submit government tenders though sub-OJEU (Official Journal of the European Union) in line with European procurement law.
The planned launch of the national portal follows one of the recommendations of the 2003 Better Regulation Task Force/Small Business Council report on reducing barriers facing any business wishing to become involved in public procurement.
OGC will additionally offer suppliers access to simplified pre-qualification documentation, develop "buyer awareness" training for government purchasers and help the SBS in the development of training and advice.
Nick Kalisperas director of Intellect, a UK trade association for the IT industry, said, "It’s obviously not sufficient just to launch a portal but they need to raise visibility of SMEs and make sure customers are aware of them."
This follows the government attempt to simplify the tendering process for IT suppliers by issuing new standardised contract terms. The OGC said the new terms have been produced to make it easier for smaller suppliers to compete for government IT contracts.