Cabinet Office puts all ICT procurements on hold

All Government Procurement Service (GPS) ICT procurements have been put on hold pending the outcome of a newly launched internal review to assess the effectiveness of the current framework approach.

Framework agreements allow departments to sign a number of suppliers, providing a variety of services, to one contract. The aim is that this gives buyers more choice at a lower cost.

However, Bill Crothers, government chief procurement officer, has now asked David Shields, managing director of GPS, to lead the review to assess whether or not this is the best approach.

“Our ICT framework agreements already remove excessive procurement procedures, but we want to make sure they are achieving the best savings and are easier and faster for both buyers and suppliers, including SMEs,” said Cabinet Office Parliamentary Secretary Chloe Smith.

“That’s sensible for the taxpayer and for businesses. That is why we have paused all currently planned GPS ICT frameworks to review their effectiveness.”

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The Cabinet Office told Computerworld UK that no timeframe had been put on the review, but the results would be released ‘as soon as possible’.

Crothers said: “We want to ensure GPS framework agreements are driving the greatest competition, and achieving a wider range of suppliers, including SMEs, in the ICT market. I have therefore asked David Shields to assess how we are using these frameworks so that we can achieve the most effective results for everyone.”

“This pause will allow us to look at whether we are getting this right and how we can minimise duplication across Government.”

In other news, Richard Bennett, managing director of PSN supplier Updata, has hit out at the difficulty of procurement at a local government level, claiming that despite the right noises being made in the Cabinet Office it is still an unwieldy process for SMEs.