Resellers have been warned they face exclusion from lucrative government IT contracts by large services firms unless they can show financial commitment when joining bidding consortia.
As CRN revealed last week, Whitehall is warming to the idea of increasing the participation of small firms, such as resellers, in large government contracts. But large IT services firms have warned that inclusion will come at a price - one that may be too steep for some in the channel.
If resellers want to be included in consortia bidding for prestigious central-government IT contracts, they will have to pay up front, services firms have said.
Smaller companies must have the financial clout to fulfil any commitments alongside the larger partners in bidding consortia, according to Guy Hains, UK president of IT services giant Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC).
Speaking at the Strategic IT Partnerships in Government Conference, Hains said CSC welcomes the chance to work with smaller, specialised suppliers.
However, he added: "When smaller organisations partner with larger ones, they must be able to meet financial obligations appropriate to the partnership."
This would mean a large up-front outlay for contracts without any guarantee of winning, which could prove daunting for VARs.
"There's a real niche for specialist suppliers to provide expertise," said Stephen Farrell, solutions director at systems integrator Hedra.
"But there's no invitation to join unless you can add value, and show you can meet your end."
Last week, the head of the government's procurement arm said he wanted to see greater involvement from SMEs in public-sector IT deals.
John Griffiths, public sector consultant at VAR cScape, said that if the government is committed to getting smaller firms bidding for contracts, it needs to review arrangements to ensure equitable treatment.
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