Intellect, the trade body for the UK’s ICT sector, has launched a series of initiatives to improve the government’s access to suppliers and improve public sector ICT skills.

It was in response to Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude announcement that government needed to engage with suppliers before starting formal competitive procurement processes. Maude also revealed the the publication of data outlining the lifecycle of government ICT contracts to enable these earlier engagements to take place.

To enable the government’s access to suppliers, Intellect said it will create a structured pathway for two-way dialogue between the two stakeholders.

It pledged to help government to talk to all types and sizes of companies before formal procurements are launched, and it will also provide technology companies with a channel for putting forward proactive proposals for new innovations that government could adopt.

The trade body will also create a dynamic map to show the relationships between technology companies – including members and non-members of Intellect – of all sizes and business profiles.

A new partnering portal will also allow companies to explore these relationships and potential alliances.

In addition, Intellect will provide information and guidance about the public sector as a customer to technology businesses.

Intellect is keen that SMEs are not left out, and said it will publish regular market health checks that provide a snapshot of inter-company activity and the proportion of public sector business that is passed on to smaller firms.

“We will also find mentors for technology start-ups to help them overcome the challenges of starting a business,” it said.

In terms of skills, through the ‘Bringing Tech to Life’ initiative, Intellect will allow civil servants to take training courses at the trade body at no charge.

Government workers on the programme will also be able to go on site tours and work shadowing placements at technology businesses, and Intellect will find industry mentors for each civil servant on the programme.

Intellect will also begin a new ‘talent swap’ matching service, to allow the government and technology firms to exchange employees to that they can better understand each other’s roles.

Sureyya Cansoy, Intellect’s public sector director, said: “Over the next few months these initiatives will dramatically improve the government’s understanding of and access to the UK’s technology sector. 

“They will also help UK companies of all sizes to share their ideas and feedback directly with government decision makers. Our aim is to ensure that the government has access to the best ideas and people to support their ICT strategy and deliver improved public services.”

The National Outsourcing Association (NOA) welcomed the government’s goals to improve its commercial and technical skills, but was concerned about Intellect leading the initiatives.

“Theirs [Intellect’s] is an IT supplier-only community, lacking the balanced opinions that having end-users and intermediaries involved brings.

“The government is likely to seek bigger savings in the business process arena than IT, so are Intellect the right people to offer the best advice?” said Martyn Hart, NOA chairman.

Intellect’s initiatives are expected to be live by March 2012.