The Cabinet Office has released the first tranche of approved suppliers of consultancy services to government – but they are still mostly big names, such as Capita and Atos, rather than smaller companies.
And of the smaller firms named, most are medium-sized with 250 to 1,000 staff and already experienced suppliers to government.
This is Phase One of the new framework agreement, dubbed ConsultancyONE, which includes nine lots representing different areas of consultancy. The slice of most interest to IT channel partners is lot one, for multi-specialism programme delivery.
According to the Cabinet Office, this creates a single path for government procurement of consultancy services with the stated aim of offering more opportunities to smaller suppliers as well as lowering the overall cost. Another six lots will be announced in March.
In its announcement, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude claimed that SMBs make up 27 per cent of the approved suppliers in this first phase. Savings on consultancy services of 20 per cent are expected.
A separate note on procurement from the Cabinet Office confirms that purchasing decisions must not be based solely on supplier turnover.
However, in the multi-specialism programme delivery lot which can include client-side IT-related consultancy services, 12 of the 20 names are companies that can be fairly described as multinational giants, including KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Boston Consulting, Capgemini, Capita and Atos IT.
The eight others are all already experienced suppliers to government and mostly of moderate size, with 250 to 1,500 staff – Actica Consulting, CMC Partnership (UK), Concerto, Liberata, Methods Consulting, Quintec Associates (Thales), Quo Imus (Qi Consulting) and IPL.
Under the framework, all consultancy requirements between £100,000 and £2m will be managed through one Government Procurement Service (GPS) purchasing team. Projects worth more than £2m will be opened up to full competition via the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) process.
David Smith, commercial director at the Department for Work and Pensions and the senior responsible officer for ConsultancyONE, said in the announcement that the new framework will offer much better value for money as well as "direct access to the innovation and expertise that SME providers can offer".
"I have worked very closely with GPS and experts across Whitehall to put this framework together and I am confident that it will offer significant savings as well as further improving the quality of consultancy services to government," Smith said.
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