Channel players could be left short-changed if plans to reform the Government Catalogue (GCat) list of suppliers get the go-ahead.
The Office of Government Commerce (OGC), the procurement arm of the government, has already rebranded the GCat and Software Catalogues, which are now known as Catalist.
But sources close to IT trade representative Intellect, which is currently in discussions with the government, said they are worried that the number of authorised catalogue suppliers may be cut and it could become harder for small firms to sell to government.
Simon Aaron, joint managing director of public-sector VAR Eurodata, was surprised to learn that the new catalogue may have fewer suppliers.
"That's ridiculous. It should be going the other way. GCat can be like an old boys club, and no one else can have a stab at it," he said.
Fiona Driscoll, head of the central government practice of consultancy Hedra, which is leading the challenge to Catalist, told of industry concerns at a closed meeting of government and Intellect members last month. She said OGC Buying Solutions is going the wrong way about ensuring SMEs get a fair chance of winning government business.
Gareth Bunn, head of government and public sector at CapGemini, who also attended the meeting, said: "Given the important role of OGC Buying Solutions and of ensuring proper access to the public-sector market, we would like to be assured that the way this is being taken forward is in the interest of all constituents."
Channel sources at the meeting said the OGC's proposals for Catalist could give more power to larger suppliers by giving them greater visibility with public-sector buyers using the catalogue, and a higher chance of bidding for government business.
Ian Kilpatrick, chief executive of distributor Wick Hill, said: "Given the increase in public-sector purchasing, and the government's commitment to helping SME suppliers, this move surprises me. There are bound to be some displeased firms."
Nick Kalisperas, an Intellect representative, said: "We have bought up a variety of concerns with OGC Buying Solutions. We expect progress in the next month to six weeks."
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