Technology category leader at Crown Commercial Service calls on perm secs to back SME agenda
Some Whitehall departments are leading others when it comes to engaging with SMEs, according to CCS’s technology chief Credit: PA
The government’s drive to disaggregate major technology contracts is heading for “an inflection point”, with incumbent deals worth about £4bn set to be broken up and redistributed in the next couple of years, according to a director at the Crown Commercial Service.
In the last few years CCS, and its parent organisation the Cabinet Office, has worked to promote disaggregation across Whitehall, advocating the fragmentation of monolithic contracts that were formerly held by one or a small number of major suppliers. The IT sector is home to a number of such large outsourced engagements with manufacturers or systems integrators.
Speaking at an event in London, Niall Quinn, strategic category director for technology at CCS, claimed that the coming months will mark a significant turning point for the disaggregation drive. He added that the digital space is well placed to lead the way in helping Whitehall become more SME-friendly.
- Q&A: UK Export Finance IT chief on how the department changed supply strategy after 15 years
- £110k up for grabs as Home Office seeks leader in disaggregation drive
- Q&A: EY director on the dangers of disaggregation and why local government is innovating more than Whitehall
“We [are approaching] an inflection point of disaggregating the overarching contracts – over the next couple of years you will have £3bn to £4bn of contracts coming up for grabs,” he said. “Government policy, in terms of complexity and transparency, is going in the right direction… with things like the Supplier Standard. Digital and technology should become an exemplar for other forms of procurement.”
Quinn said that, while progress is being made across Whitehall, some departments are lagging others in engaging with SMEs. Promotion of the small business agenda by permanent secretaries and other departmental management figures is crucial, he added.
“Compared with the rest of procurement, we [in the technology space] have the greatest percentage of SMEs working with us,” the CCS director said.
“But can we do more to bang the drum within [departments such as] the MoD, and others that say ‘we cannot have that [fulfilled by an SME], because it is specialised’? The message needs to come from the perm secs as well.”