Government must review costly tender process to help SMEs

Opinion

Government must review costly tender process to help SMEs

The mantra of New Labour in the early years was education, education, education, now because of the uncontrolled spending habits of the previous Government, the current one has been forced into making cuts, cuts, cuts.

This week the new generation started swinging the axe and the IT industry started to get some details about the planned savings; £1.7bn from delaying or stopping contracts and a £95m reduction in IT spending.

It will also look to cut wastage, £600m to be specific, by unwinding quangos and as any education reseller will know, the plug was pulled on BECTA leaving an advanced tender process in doubt.

The new ICT Services framework kicks off in August but question marks hang over its future given this week's decision.

One education house has already spent 60 man days responding to the 125 page Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) and anticipates that the cost of responding to the Invitation To Tender will cost in the region of £100,000.

The costly procurement process has prevented some SMEs from targeting Government business and has the potential to put others in real financial danger.

If the Tories are serious - as they previously pledged - about handing 25% of public sector contracts to SMEs, the coalition Government needs to seriously re-think the tender process for ICT contracts.

Drop me a line, on the QT, off-record, very much hush hush.

paul.kunert@rbi.co.uk

This was first published in May 2010

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