Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude says the changes will mark the end of “procurement oligopoly”, where innovative small businesses are shut out of contract processes early on because of “ridiculous rules and unnecessary bureaucracy”.“It’s not only bad for those affected, it’s also bad for government as it stifles competition,” he says. “These changes will help create a system which is transparent and allows small businesses and voluntary-sector organisations to compete more fairly for government contracts, helping to drive economic growth at national and regional level, while delivering better deals for the taxpayer.” Here are the main measures that have been announced:
- Business Link has launched a Contracts Finder website as a source of information on public-sector contracts worth more than £10,000. Organisations will be able to specify which contracts interest them and details will be emailed free of charge.
- Stephen Allott has been appointed as a new Crown Commercial Representative (CCR) for small businesses. He’s tasked with building a more strategic dialogue between government and smaller suppliers. Allot has chaired the boards of seven different technology SMEs, is the founder of Cambridge Computer Lab Ring, and the former CFO of Micromuse – the company he grew from £1m to £140m in turnover. We salute the appointment.
- SME product surgeries are being set up to allow small companies to pitch products and services direct to a panel of senior public-sector procurement and operational officials.
- Pre-Qualification Questionnaires will be eliminated for all central government procurements under £100,000.
- Firms will only have to submit their prequalification data once for all procurements in common commodities.
- An interchange programme will be set up for people from business to be seconded into government procurement teams.
- An extended supplier feedback service will be created for representatives from business to tell government where there are still issues.
- There will be “mystery shoppers” and SME panels, allowing people to tell government if they see a contract they don’t understand.
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