Solo IT pros who work through Umbrella Companies are amongst those likely to benefit from new changes to the Government’s IT procurement systems, which may well favour smaller providers.

Following an internal review, the Cabinet Office has just announced that a number of existing ICT frameworks for procurement will be scrapped. Moreover, Government departments will only be permitted to use framework agreements in the future if they meet two criteria: they must “explicitly deliver against key strategic needs” and they must give a “reasonable chance” for suppliers of all sizes to secure contracts.

Framework agreements were designed to simplify and shorten the search for IT service providers by Government departments by allowing them to select from a list of “pre-approved suppliers”, obviating the need for ”excessive procurement procedures and the need for extensive tendering.” The result in reality, however, has been the creation of an exclusive club of regular providers, which are usually large firms, while smaller fry, such as Umbrella Company IT specialists, do not get a look in, despite being capable of delivering the requisite services and quite possibly charging more economic fees.

The Government’s chief procurement officer, Bill Crothers, said: “Bold action is necessary if we are to find greater efficiencies whilst attracting more innovative suppliers and supporting growth.” He announced the immediate cessation of the Application Development, Delivery and Support Service (ADDSS) and Hosting Services procurements. Service Integration & Management Services (SIAM) will not, he added, “be progressed through the framework route.”

Simon Colvin, a legal expert on IT procurement, welcomed the decision, saying that it will “be a good thing both for departments and suppliers, particularly SMEs, given [the] likely bid costs involved.”

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