The UK government is trying to accelerate procurement reforms and hit ambitious targets by directing at least half of all new IT spending to small biz suppliers before the next general election. One of the grand aims of the Cabinet Office had been to route 25 per cent of all government IT business through SMEs by the end of …
yes great - but...
...what if it doesn't happen?
Will any individual in any department suffer any pain?
If not either it's not a target or it's not important
Of course the muti billion £ decades long projects will stay in 1 piece, which (oh gosh) means..
"The Usual Suspects" remain the only viable (as in the only ones HMG "trusts" despite their track record of fu**ups) to do the job.
Option b). TUS set up a raft of pseudo SME's to snout up the work.
It's a commendable idea and might actually save taxpayers money.
But the devils is (as always) in the detail.
When I did stuff for the private sector, we'd bid for a 50k piece of services work with a one pager proposal.
Now I do stuff for the public sector, they send out a 25-page "ARFQ" for a 30k piece of work. Bids for 6-figure contacts require hundreds of pages of documentation submitted.
It's not surprising that many small suppliers think "why would I bother, it's probably a shoo-in anyway" and stick with private sector clients who can quickly evaluate competence and maximize the technical effort:dicking around ratio.
Re: Anecdotal experience
"It pointed to the abolition of pre-qualification questionnaires for contracts under £100,000 and the launch of the Contracts Finder service that allows SMEs to locate business more easily, as success stories for SMEs."
Re: Anecdotal experience
Read his comment - an ARFQ is not pre qualification.
Is that 25% of all business by volume or value? Big difference.
Time to get the country working again
Give me half a dozen of my techie mates, a bunch of El Reg readers and we could do the whole of the NHS system for about one fiftieth of the cost, on time and working.
Then for an encore we'd work on the Immigration software, the Passport Office, DVLA and still be home for Christmas.
Re: Time to get the country working again
And we would probably all bag a cool £5m each.
Having briefly had to 'support' some software written by the really 'quality' big vendors in the past too I am pretty sure we would do a better job and be far more flexible. For a start please no java!
Read behind the lines
"Programme will be disaggregated for commercial purposes" roughly translates to let's take that contract split it in to 15 different contracts and make sure we take on 10 SMEs to do the work, ignore that three of them have to have at least 1-2 subcontractors and then wonder why the service is not as good. Then go out and find a Service Management Integrator (i.e. a company that knows how to manage lots of SME suppliers) and hey presto we have a recipe for even more chaos and f**k ups than before.
Re: Read behind the lines
They already do that with the large ones who subcontract the f*** out of a contract to try and weasel out of responsibility. Just because its an SME doesn't mean they won't have the ability or resources and vice versa. It's a common misconception.
Only civil servants think the usual suspects do *all* their own work.
When one of them says something like "Drawing on our extensive expertise in this area" what they mean is "Drawing on our extensive phone book of sub contractors, individual contractors and competent ex-employees we will offer to throw a bone to on the condition they don't let on they don't actually work for us."
TUS major "skills" are in fact
Schoozing politicians and senior civil servants.
Drawing out the diagrams their assorted subbies will implement.
Failing to point out obvious problem so they can make serious money on the change requests EG EDS and the 2000+ change requests for. the CSA II system
The finance team hate new suppliers so not much is likely to change any time soon. To their mindset doing a big negotiation to 'leverage buying power' equals supplier continues to actually honour initial hypothetical pricing. In reality vendor knows they've got you tied up with your hands behind your back in a bag.
So: spend less public money buying equipment in bulk straight from the manufacturer, or plough the money into an SME reseller to meet government targets and spend an extra, say.. 20% of public money on the markup.