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Letting in the SMEs

The Guardian - Although around 80% of public sector IT is currently provided by about 20 large suppliers, the government has an objective of placing 25% of external expenditure with small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) over the next few years. To this end, in February it appointed Stephen Allott as the crown representative to build a strategic dialogue with smaller suppliers.

Its an ambitious goal given the need for public authorities to comply with EU legislation on procurement and deal with widespread cutbacks in IT investment. Also, even though the Cabinet Office is keen to see procurement broken down into smaller chunks to encourage SMEs, the sheer cost of tendering even for modest projects precludes many from doing so.

Despite this, there are still simple things that public authorities can do to increase the representation of SMEs in contracts, as a Sheffield city council initiative demonstrates.