Suppliers criticise GDS procurement for 'lack of clarity'

Dxw's supplier survey lays bare SMBs' challenges in applying for government contracts

The government's "incomprehensible" procurement notices are putting off smaller IT suppliers that could well be capable of fulfilling the contract demands, according to a wide-reaching survey.

The poor quality of writing in nearly three-quarters of procurement notices muddied suppliers' understanding of what government organisations actually wanted, public sector supplier dxw's research found.

Dxw built a tool to analyse 2,996 votes from suppliers and clients on 31 procurement notices posted on the Government Digital Service's (GDS) Digital Marketplace across three weeks in October 2017.

Of the opportunities, respondents found only 13% that were generally good, compared to 65% that were considered to be generally bad.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

In addition, 71% of the notices didn't properly explain the problem the notice wanted solved, and 74% didn't clearly describe user needs.

Harry Metcalfe, MD of dxw, said: "It seems very likely that the quality of writing in opportunities is putting off SMBs who are more than capable of undertaking these projects.

"Many opportunities are unclear and some are essentially incomprehensible - except perhaps to the incumbent supplier. Clearer opportunities will ensure there is a wider, more diverse pool of suppliers, which will provide greater value for money for the public sector and better services for users."

While he pointed out that the research wasn't a rigorous analysis, he claimed it provides "a general sense of the problem" suppliers perceive, which he is discussing with GDS directly this week.

The research did find that 77% of the procurement notices required six or more 'essential skills' - potentially at odds with GDS's aim of upping government's IT spend with smaller suppliers, after setting itself a target of at least 33% spend on SMBs by 2020.

The most recently available figures, for 2015-2016, show the government spent just 24% of its budget with SMBs - 11% directly and 13% indirectly.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Of the procurement notices dxw analysed, 45% shortlisted one or more suppliers, and 32% didn't clearly describe the budget for the work.

Metcalfe hopes to work with GDS to solve the issues in the next Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework (DOS3).

Featured Resources

What you need to know about migrating to SAP S/4HANA

Factors to assess how and when to begin migration

Download now

Your enterprise cloud solutions guide

Infrastructure designed to meet your company's IT needs for next-generation cloud applications

Download now

Testing for compliance just became easier

How you can use technology to ensure compliance in your organisation

Download now

Best practices for implementing security awareness training

How to develop a security awareness programme that will actually change behaviour

Download now
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/policy-legislation/data-governance/354496/brexit-security-talks-under-threat-after-uk-accused-of
data governance

Brexit security talks under threat after UK accused of illegally copying Schengen data

10 Jan 2020
Visit/microsoft-windows/32066/what-to-do-if-youre-still-running-windows-7
Microsoft Windows

What to do if you're still running Windows 7

14 Jan 2020
Visit/operating-systems/microsoft-windows/354526/memes-and-viking-funerals-the-internet-reacts-to-the
Microsoft Windows

Memes and Viking funerals: The internet reacts to the death of Windows 7

14 Jan 2020
Visit/network-internet/broadband/354530/openreach-offers-free-full-fibre-installation-for-thousands-of
broadband

Openreach offers free full-fibre installation for thousands of homes

14 Jan 2020