The government has put all new IT frameworks on hold, as part of its review into the efficacy of framework agreements for SMEs.
All planned Government Procurement Service (GPS) ICT procurements will be paused during the review to determine if they are achieving the best results for buyers and suppliers, said the Cabinet Office. But existing ICT procurement frameworks will continue to be used as normal, it said.
The news comes as the government put a £1bn tender for IT services on ice because of hardware problems with the tender process. GPS said in a letter to suppliers that there is no guarantee the tender will be re-issued.
Whitehall has come under fire for its reliance on large framework procurements, which SMEs have said exclude them from the tendering process. Earlier this year former G-Cloud director Chris Chant called for a new framework policy that would make it easier for small suppliers to do business with the public sector and Whitehall.
Bill Crothers, government chief procurement officer, said of the procurement freeze: “We want to ensure GPS framework agreements are driving the greatest competition, and achieving a wider range of suppliers, including SMEs, in the ICT market.
“This pause will allow us to look at whether we are getting this right and how we can minimise duplication across government,” he said.