Suppliers welcome network framework changes

Private sector suppliers have praised the government for listening to them and make it easier for small businesses to win business from a new framework for public sector network (PSN) connections.

The network services framework was put out to tender by the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) on Friday, covering both PSN and non-PSN compliant network and telephony services, replacing existing agreements.
PSNGB, the representative body for private sector
PSN suppliers, had lobbied hard for changes to the terms of conditions which it said would have favoured larger suppliers.

Mike Thomas, managing director of PSNGB (pictured above), said: “Encouragingly, these changes have been made and will benefit both the suppliers and the customers.”

Ian Fishwick, SME director at PSNGB, said previous frameworks had included a long list of products attached to each lot, with successful suppliers required to provide every product listed.

He said: “The longer the list, the more likely it becomes that there is at least one product an SME cannot provide.

“The real danger with this approach is that you might be able to supply 99% of what is required, but you couldn’t bid because of one specialist product that represented a tiny portion of actual government spend.

“Not surprisingly, it was only the larger companies that could supply everything on the list and you ended up with the traditional suppliers again.”

The new framework includes ‘lots’ that split into ‘core’ products and ‘supplementary’ products, with suppliers only required to be able to provide the former as a minimum.

Fishwick said: “CCS has clearly listened to PSNGB as the new frameworks include ‘lots’ that have products split into ‘core’ products and ‘supplementary’ products.

“The core products have been deliberately defined as the vanilla, commercial-grade, products that represent the bulk of government spend in that area.”

In addition, each of the 10 lots will have up to 25 suppliers, a substantial increase on the previous frameworks.

But Thomas added: “Not all suggestions have been adopted and we will continue to lobby to improve the procurement environment for all parties.”

The deadline for tender submissions is 4 December, with the framework expected to go live by the end of March 2015. 

Colin Marrs

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