The Government Procurement Service (GPS) has awarded the contract to develop the Single Supplier Registration platform, which will mean suppliers need only register once to bid for government IT contracts.
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NQC is developing a system that will make it easier and cheaper for suppliers to bid for government contracts. Government hopes this will help it increase the proportion of products and services it buys from SMEs.
Suppliers to the public sector currently have to register on several systems to be able to view, access and tender for business. The cross-government system will replace an existing system with over 80,000 registered suppliers.
Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said government had to reduce the number of systems suppliers are expected to sign into.
“We’ve always said we want to simplify the procurement process and it won’t make it easier for new suppliers to bid for government business if we’re asking them to register on several systems in order to access these opportunities," said Maude.
“That’s why we asked GPS to bring together the current myriad systems and tools into one single place of registration, holding accurate and up-to-date information on suppliers.”
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Maude said it will reduce the time and cost spent tendering for government business which he said was especially important for SMEs.
He added that it will improve how government departments share their analysis of supplier financial information.
Speaking at an event entitled The Crown and suppliers: A new way of working in November 2011, Maude said the UK was particularly bad at procuring public sector services.
He said the public sector procurement process costs twice as much to run in the UK than in France. He added that it costs UK suppliers four times more to bid for public sector work than private sector contracts.
“These costs get passed on in the end,” he said.
Maude said procurement should take an average of 120 working days.
According to the most recent government figures, central government spent 10% of its total budget with SMEs in 2011/12. This compared with 6.5% in 2009/10 and 6.8% in 2010/11. The government's target is to have 25% of the products and services it consumes coming from SMEs. It said it was on track to hit 13.7% in 2011/12.
Craig Fairs, framework sales manager at SME IT supplier CSA Waverley said the announcement is good news for SMEs. "This move indicates that the government is thinking about SMEs and is trying to make life easier for them to be successful in tendering for contracts. This announcement also provides solid proof that SMEs are benefiting from UK government procurement policies."