The government’s CloudStore model could be emulated across other government services as a means of improving the number of SMEs doing business with the public sector, the government’s procurement chief has said.
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Speaking at Intellect’s World-Class Public Services conference, the government's chief procurement officer John Collington, said: “The CloudStore will provide a landmark [model] for the future. We are already looking at an FM [facilities management] store and a consultancy store.”
The news follows the launch of a new G-Cloud framework, which aims to be more SME friendly through its elimination of a lengthy pre-qualification questionnaire and less stringent financial history details.
But Collington said frameworks were only one solution in meeting the government target to channel 25% of its contractual spend through SMEs by the end of its Parliamentary term. “We want to make sure that more than 50% of the market is open to SMEs. Frameworks are part of the supply solutions,” he said.
Non-direct routes such as the use small businesses in larger companies’ supply chains would also help meet that figure, he added.
We want to make sure that more than 50% of the [public sector] market is open to SMEs
John Collington, government chief procurement officer
Collington said nearly 8,000 contracts worth more than £10,000 have so far been awarded through its Contracts Finder website, with 3,000 of those going to SMEs. But he said the aim was to get that figure closer to 50%.
Spend through the Government Procurement Service had increased from £2.6bn last year to £3bn this year, but he said this figure was expected to increase to £5bn with the uptake of public services network contracts. Central investment on procurement capability was £2.5m for 2011/2012, with this figure expected to go up to £5m.
“We are tracking every department procurement in place and their use of procedures,” he said.
Collington said it takes an average of 400 days to undergo a procurement through competitive dialogue, a process used for complex projects where bidders go through a lengthy series of dialogues. This process should only be used in exceptional circumstances – the average procurement time should be pegged at 120 days, he said.
Also speaking at the conference, government CIO Andy Nelson said departments would increasingly move to more complex supplier models as they move away from end-to-end service provisions supplied by one company.
He said the challenge for government was to become a more intelligent client. “Architecture integration, systems integration, programme management and vendor management [skills] – we should have those pieces internally,” said Nelson.