The government is cutting the number of its ICT frameworks from 26 down to just 10 - a move that has been criticised for leaving SMEs in the dark.
The strategy will initially reduce the number of frameworks down to 16, but as more agreements expire that number will decrease to 10. The new frameworks will typically last for between one to two years, said the Cabinet Office.
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The migration is part of the plan to move government frameworks onto the Digital Marketplace – which is intended to act as a single platform for public sector buyers to browse IT services.
At the same time Crown Commercial Services, the body responsible for public sector procurement, has migrated to the GOV.UK website.
The move has been criticised for leaving suppliers without information. The new CCS landing page omits any reference to SMEs, with guidance for small suppliers appearing elsewhere on the GOV.UK site.
"Previously it was easy for suppliers to find all the required information. Now it's not. All the help and assistance for suppliers has gone," said Mark Craddock, former G-Cloud lead.
One source said: “CCS is migrating G-Cloud 5 from Cloud Store to the Digital Marketplace, but they are not transferring all the digital information, its a complete mess. We lost a deal because a customer couldn’t find our service on the portal under a specific heading. We’ve got no idea when it will get better.”
Another supplier questioned the logic of rationalising the frameworks, suggesting CCS will merely increase the number of lots available on each agreement. He said: “Is it another change for the sake of an idea? What has CCS saved?"
A third supplier said: "CCS is very badly resourced. Its bitten off more than it can chew with the framework migration, and the next G-Cloud 6 deadline." ®