Some 183 suppliers have bagged a place on a nine-month, £40m public sector framework to bid for digital services project work, with a third of the firms new to government work.
A tender was issued by Government Procurement Services in July. It had been looking for a maximum of 999 suppliers to provide software engineering and support; sysadmin and web operations; content design and development; and user research.
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This is all part of the government's efforts to save £1.7bn annually by 2015 by pushing its public sector transactions online.
The Cabinet Office said 84 per cent of the total supplier lineup are SMEs, and 70 of the firms have not sold to public sector buyers before and nearly all of these are considered small fry.
Francis Maude, Cabinet Office Minister, said the deal proved "we are levelling the playing field for government contracts" and "giving opportunities to new entrants".
The problem is that compared to the billions of cash dished out to the usual suspects, this £40m framework pales into insignificance.
And despite the heavy involvement of SMEs, some very familiar names are lurking on the winner's list including Accenture, Atos, Capgemini, Capita, Detica, IBM and Steria.
The framework award means that all 183 suppliers on the new list can bid for business, but there is no certainty that they'll get it – it all comes down to best price and suitability of services.
A Cabinet Office spokesman agreed: “Like any framework there's no guarantee of business…but we've given an opportunity to companies of all sizes to bid for government work".
The agreement will be refreshed every six to nine months when suppliers will be given a chance to reply to a new tender document. The online store the public sector's tech buyers will use to place orders will be operational in a "matter of days" the spokesman confirmed.
Tola Sergeant, director at TechMarketView, is waiting to see how much business is funnelled via the Digital Services framework - but how that pie is divided between the various suppliers. ®