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Not one G-Cloud supplier has been penalised for failing to submit details of how much business they have secured through the framework since its introduction in 2012, the Cabinet Office has confirmed.
Each month, suppliers are required to upload details of any sales made through the framework to the Management Information System Online (MISO) portal, and are told they face admin charges for failing to do so correctly or on time.
Computer Weekly recently filed a Freedom of Information (FOI) request asking the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) to confirm the number of times suppliers have faced financial penalties for MISO misdemeanours – and the answer was never.
“No administration fees have been charged to suppliers under any G-Cloud arrangement to date,” the CCS response stated.
“We have not waived the right to charge these fees and are monitoring compliance volumes. We retain our right to charge administration fees in the future.”
The FOI request also revealed that 118 suppliers were liable for admin charges under the terms of G-Cloud 6, but no record was kept on non-compliant providers before this version of the framework, the Cabinet Office added.
G-Cloud insiders have privately indicated to Computer Weekly that there is little incentive to pursue non-compliant suppliers from a financial point of view because the MISO system is renowned for being complex and time-consuming to use.
So much so that concerns have been raised recently that SMEs could be neglecting to report all the deals they do, causing the government to underestimate the contribution they make to the G-Cloud framework.
Jessica Figueras, research director at IT market watcher Kable, said the knowledge that they are unlikely to face punishment means there is little incentive for suppliers to comply.
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- The government could be underestimating the amount of public sector deals being awarded to small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) IT suppliers, due to the shortcomings of using an online reporting system designed when infrequent, high-value deals were commonplace.
- G-Cloud suppliers are urging the newly elected Conservative government not to make any sweeping changes to the framework, for fear it could put the public sector off procuring services through it.
This is despite threats from the CCS that suppliers could have their right to take part in G-Cloud revoked or suspended for failing to comply with the framework agreement’s obligations.
“The worry would be that particular suppliers might deliberately not submit their data in order to escape public scrutiny, knowing they would not be penalised,” she said. “So this feels like a problem that needs to be fixed.”
John Glover, sales and marketing manager at cloud collaboration supplier Kahootz, has previously spoken out about the challenges faced by SMEs in trying to use MISO to log G-Cloud deals.
He said the Cabinet Office’s stance on MISO was understandable, given the sheer number of suppliers it needs to keep tabs on.
“Given the innovative nature of the G-Cloud framework to increase competition via a much-enlarged supplier base, there has to be a trade-off due to the resources the CCS has available to monitor and audit the volume of interactions now being generated,” said Glover.
To remedy this, he said the Cabinet Office needs to urgently address how it logs this information as part of its recently reported review of MISO.
“This is yet another reason for the CCS and GDS to put an e-commerce facility in place, tied to a digital marketplace shopping basket, so all orders are tracked and accounted for automatically,” he added.
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