Three framework procurements axed after government review
ADDSS, Hosting Services and SIAM fall victim to shift to regard frameworks as 'just one of the tools for the job'
The government has decided to end three framework procurements for application development, delivery and support services (ADDSS) hosting services and service integration & management services (SIAM) following an internal review.
The review has prompted a new approach for how frameworks will be used to procure IT in government, notably to make it easier for SMEs to do business with government through more appropriate, efficient, and, the Cabinet Office hopes, simpler procurements.
The government argues that fewer IT frameworks will attract a wider range of suppliers. Frameworks, designed to remove excessive procurement procedures and extensive tendering by helping buyers choose from a list of pre-approved suppliers, will only be agreed where they are shown to deliver against the commercial ICT strategy and can attract businesses of all sizes.
Bill Crothers, the government's chief procurement officer said: "Bold action is necessary if we are to find greater efficiencies whilst attracting more innovative suppliers and supporting growth.
"After looking at the current frameworks in use, we've decided to cease the Application Development, Delivery and Support Service and Hosting Services procurements from today and Service Integration & Management Services will not be progressed through the framework route. Frameworks which are already operating effectively and delivering significant change such as the Public Services Network (PSN) and G-Cloud provide a model for success and will continue."
The government intends that there will be fewer large ICT frameworks, with only those that explicitly deliver against key strategic needs, and which are shaped to offer a reasonable chance of business for suppliers of all sizes, being agreed.
Cabinet Office Parliamentary Secretary Chloe Smith said:
"Framework agreements only work if they deliver what they set out to deliver and drive the greatest competition from a wider range of suppliers, including SMEs. That's why we're strengthening procurement by ensuring they align with what government needs as well as working for suppliers."
According to Crothers, the new approach is intended to make frameworks more appropriate to the situation than has previously been the case.
"In particular, where there is a strategic need, the framework will be seen as one of the tools for the job. There has been a tendency to turn too quickly to frameworks; they have their place but we need the right tools for the job. We will decide whether a framework is appropriate, and if so, we'll be more thoughtful about how we shape it to achieve our strategic goals."
Crothers said frameworks will now be seen more as a strategic tool rather than something the government tactically turns to.
"If we're being thoughtful and strategic in determining if a framework is appropriate, we'll work hard with departments to drive business through that framework. In line with operating as a commercially savvy single client, we'll get the Government Procurement Service (GPS), the Efficiency and Reform Group (ERG) and departments to be more integrated.
"We should also be more thoughtful about the number of suppliers we put on a framework and the likelihood of participants getting work. Having a framework with multiple suppliers, few of whom will get work, can create waste."
Discussing SIAM, Crothers and government chief technology officer Liam Maxwell indicated that although from an IT perspective SIAM is the way forward, the planned framework and mechanism was not capable of delivering for it.
"On each of these (frameworks), the strategic need remains. We are simply thinking about how to satisfy that differently. Each of those three were slightly different and the reasons for not proceeding were slightly different. There was a high risk we'd have frameworks with more suppliers not getting business than getting business, and we weren't seeing enough innovation from the suppliers that were bidding," said Crothers.