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Government procurement advice for boosting SME involvement due in “next few weeks”

Government procurement advice for boosting SME involvement due in “next few weeks”

Changes may be made to procurement questionnaires to help shorten procurement timeframes

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The government is releasing details about the reforms it plans to make to the procurement system to help increase the number of smaller businesses taking part, in the next few weeks.

Ian Watmore, chief operating officer for the government and responsible for the government’s efficiency and reform group, told the Intellect Annual Regent Conference 2011 in London that the information would be published in the weeks leading up to the Budget, which is on 23 March.

“This government is looking to completely change the way we procure [to involve more SMEs]. Between now and the Budget, there will be a very helpful announcement,” he said.

The government wants to reform the procurement system to shorten the procurement timeframe, to enable more SMEs to take part in the process.

He hinted that one of the changes might affect the procurement questionnaires.

The Cabinet Office recently announced that it will recruit a Director of ICT Future, reporting to the Chief Information Office, who will be responsible for a number of areas, including “changing the terrain for SMEs to enter the government marketplace”.

In his speech, Watmore was also keen to stress the government’s keenness on being “open”.

“We want to open our data, we want to use open source. We want to open our minds to new ways of doing things so we can bring public services in shorter timeframes and more cheaper than before,” he said.

Meanwhile, Watmore said that the new government CIO, Joe Harley, will continue with agendas pursued by his predecessor, John Suffolk.

“Joe Harley is the new CIO and is also in charge of DWP (Department for Work and Pensions), which is the largest users of IT in the public sector. Joe and his team will continue to drive the infrastructure agenda, particularly the move to cloud computing, the public sector network (PSN), data centre rationalisation and the introduction of mobile and other forms of new technology,” said Watmore.

Tola Sargeant, research director at analyst house TechMarketView, told Computerworld UK, that Harley would face quite a few challenges, having responsibility for both the government and the DWP IT, but that he had strong support behind him.

“He is so well liked. He has got the buy in from other government CIOs. It makes sense to have someone who understands the biggest IT user in government – there would have been some overlap [anyway],” she said.

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