A three-month trial granting SMEs free access to thousands of public-sector contract opportunities has received a lukewarm reception from the channel.
SMEs can use the www.supply2.gov.uk web site free of charge until the end of July to bid for public sector contracts across the UK worth less than £100,000.
The trial is part of the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform’s (BERR) plan to help SMEs win 30 per cent of public sector business within five years. SMEs will also receive additional financial help, as BERR will allow them to use invoice financing when bidding for public sector business.
Some 5,000 public sector buyers have already signed up to the web site, which advertises about 3,000 new contracts each month.
John Wright, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said he hoped the free trial period would encourage more SMEs to try their hand at public sector deals.
But Scott Fletcher, chief executive of reseller ANS, claimed the site was
symptomatic of the public sector’s convoluted approach to procurement and argued
smaller contracts should not be put out to tender.
“If the tender process was removed for contracts worth less than £100,000 it would remove the need for a web site like this,” Fletcher said.
“If we sell a single sign-on solution, we provide pre-sales free of charge, but then the purchasing department say it has to go to tender. This stops us wanting to give free advice. If they removed the regulation this would change overnight.”
Dan May, operations director at VAR Ramsac, said: “The tender process for public sector deals has been very cumbersome. We welcome the idea as long as the process is not over complicated.”
Shaune Parsons, managing director at VAR ComputerWorld Wales, was concerned
procurement officials would not be aware of the portal. “The government needs to
walk the talk and drive this down from government level to procurement level.”
But he warned: “Local authorities and government departments must play their part by making sure that more small business opportunities are advertised on Supply2.”
Nima Green asks what is driving public cloud uptake in Germany
In the wake of yet another lawsuit involving Oracle, we run through 10 of the vendor's biggest court battles
CEO Chuck Robbins says Cisco will use the Catalyst 9000 product range as a template for future launches
Today saw 14 of the UK IT channel's biggest hitters come together to determine the winners of CRN's WiC awards. But what does being a WiC judge actually involve? Doug Woodburn reports