Despite its drive to encourage competition among UK SMEs, the government is still keen to maintain relationships with larger suppliers.
Whitehall has set a target to do 25% of all government business with smaller businesses by 2015, with UK CTO Liam Maxwell often claiming this will end the “oligopoly” – the select group of large companies providing IT services.
However, some representatives have now said that the SME commitment is not about excluding larger businesses from government.
“SMEs drive huge innovation, but big business can be beautiful too,” claimed Stephen Kelly, the UK’s COO, at the London Public Sector Show earlier this week.
Meanwhile, Sally Collier, Crown Commercial Service (CCS) chief executive, added that Whitehall is not turning its back on big suppliers.
“We need to be really clear what we want from suppliers. We want them to embrace competition, we want innovation and, of course, savings,” Collier claimed.
Both Kelly and Collier claimed that profit and transparency was one problem the government faces when it comes to IT.
While they said they wanted suppliers to make a profit, Collier said it should not be “unreasonable” and Kelly claimed profit has been a “mystery” in the past.
The Whitehall chiefs explained the size of a business is not the most important factor, but the way both provider and customers are benefitted.
“We need more capability on our side of table to understand transparency,” claimed Kelly.
“If we get it right, we can have much better relationships with supplier. It is vital that our suppliers are profitable, because we want them to invest more,” he added.