Overwhelming response from SMEs causes Cabinet Office to extend applications to 19 December
The Cabinet Office’ has extended the deadline for its SME-friendly “G-Cloud framework” by almost three weeks to 19 December 2011.
According to a government statement, the G-Cloud framework tender process, published on 18 October, had received 532 expressions of interest, with up to one third coming from SMEs due to an unprecedented SME friendly application process. The Cabinet Office has thus decide to extend its dealine to give more companies the chance to apply.
Simple application process
Worth up to £60 million, the framework includes various elements that make it of particular interest to SMEs, such as the less stringent financial history reporting requirements and an open procedure with a simple spreadsheet with yes or no answers to mandatory questions rather that a lengthy pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ).
According to the statement, the framework also asks suppliers what they can offer the government rather than dictating a complicated specification that stifles all innovation, while services are provided on the supplier’s standard terms with a government overlay instead of demanding a unique crown contract.
To improve its relationship with smaller companies, the Cabinet Office has also started providing regular updates to the supplier community via twitter and, according to the statement, held a live streamed ‘Apply Camp’ to aid suppliers with the tender process.
“G-Cloud services are a ‘pay as you go’ approach to IT – adopting these services will allow the public sector to use ‘off the shelf’ IT services, such as email, paid for on a usage basis rather than developing their own systems. This way the government can then use what it wants, when it wants it and avoid duplicating services that cannot be shared,” the statement read
Public sector IT becoming “more flexible”
Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, said that the G-Cloud was a sign of public sector IT becoming more flexible, modern and better value. “The easiest way to think of cloud is as the IT equivalent of a Boris bike – pay for what you need when you need it, and forget about costly ongoing maintenance that you can live without.”
“It is also an example of government procurement changing,” he said. “Rather than rigid requirements expressed in overly complex tenders, we are asking suppliers what they can offer and setting out our requirements in the simplest way possible. Rather than being risk averse, we are exploring this new area of technology and looking for innovative solutions that will save taxpayers money.”
“The initial G-Cloud framework will operate for six months and will include all suppliers that pass the simplified assurance processes. Successful suppliers will form the first public sector ICT marketplace, which are expected to be available to all public sector buyers via the “Application Store”. Services available on the Application Store are likely to include: email, word processing, system hosting, enterprise resource planning, electronic records management, customer relationship management and office productivity applications,” said the statement.