I attended Francis Maude's SME strategic supplier summit last week. If even half of the promised reforms materialise it will transform the Public Sector landscape, clearing the way for young and dynamic businesses to bring innovative solutions and play their part in cutting the gaping deficit.
The event began with a surprise visit from David Cameron, who gave the opening talk. The day was lead from the front by Francis Maude throughout. Their enthusiasm for the new measures plainly evident.
Eelven specific initiatives were announced during the day (some pre-leaked) to FT and BBC of course), and have the Prime Minister's backing as well as Francis Maude's:
- A single, searchable, free online source for procurement opportunities called 'Contracts Finder'.
- 'Crown Commercial Representatives' who's job is to work with SMEs.
- SME Product Surgeries (led by the new CCRs) to enable SMEs to pitch innovative products and services to Central and Local Gov. 'Lean' Review published and findings (simplifying procurement process) mandated across Government.
- A bundle of simplifications to 'pre-qualification' (shudder!) including scrapping it for all procurements under £100,000 in value.
- All Government Departments required to publish set of specific, targeted actions to achieve 25% of their business with SMEs
- All Government Departments required to publish set of specific, targeted actions to achieve 25% of their business with SMEs.
- Better 'outcome' based specifications, and breaking up requirements into 'micro' lots.
- Interchange Programme - SME secondees spend time in Government procurement, Gov procurers spend time in SMEs.
- Local Government Support - Contracts Finder, standards, PQQ simplifications etc to be adopted in Local Gov too.
- Supplier Feedback Service - in effect this feedback process to become Open, iterative and continuous (release early, release often).Last, but not least, an SME panel and 'mystery shopper' checks on all these initiatives
Sirius warmly welcomes these initiatives, and we look forward, at last, to bringing the benefits of Free, Open Source software to the Public Sector.