After a 12-month wait, the government has finally appointed a firm to build its public sector portal, which will give VARs greater access to contracts worth under £100,000.
BiP Solutions will design, build and maintain the portal for the next five years.
Last year the Office of Govern-ment Commerce and the Depart-ment of Trade and Industry’s (DTI’s) Small Business Service jointly launched an official tendering process for creation of the portal, which has already been through pilot schemes in the West Midlands and Harringey (CRN, 17 January 2005).
Gordon McRury, brand manager at BiP Solutions, told CRN that the portal would enable smaller resellers to gain an advantage in the government-contract arena, which is thought to consist of 9.6 million contracts worth £28bn each year.
Contracts worth under £100,000 are generally not worth the effort for multi-nationals. This will be the central advertising point and SMEs will be able to have relevant contract details emailed directly to them,” McRury said.
Currently, all public sector contracts valued at over £100,000 are required by law to be listed in the Official Journal of the European Union, but until now there has been no such mandate for lower-value contracts.
The US, however, has already had a similar scheme in operation for several years called Set Aside, allowing a certain percentage of public sector contracts to go to SMEs.
The UK portal will be launched this spring, with all UK public sector organisations able to publicise contracts on it. The majority of services provided to SMEs through the portal will be free, but suppliers may be charged an annual subscription for some services.
Barry Gardiner, minister for competitiveness at the DTI, said: “The portal will make public sector buyers seriously question whether or not they are getting value for money from their current range of providers.
“The portal will save buyers time and effort in sourcing new suppliers and help them to provide public services more cost-effectively.”
Adept says latest purchase will push revenue beyond £50m
Security firm set to become part of acquisitive Shearwater Group
Distributor merges three northern sites into one new hub in Warrington
Activist investor puts forward five director candidates as turmoil continues at security giant