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Government receives 200th mystery shopper complaint from SMEs

The scheme allows SMEs to anonymously report failings in government procurement

The main coordinator between government and SME suppliers has confirmed the receipt of the 200th Mystery Shopper case, which forms part of a scheme to help increase the scope of public sector procurement to smaller providers.

Stephen Allott, the Crown Commercial Representative for SMEs at the Cabinet Office, revealed the news on his Twitter account.

The Mystery Shopper service was announced in February last year and allows SMEs to anonymously inform government where its procurement practices are restricting smaller companies from securing public sector contracts.

This service was then extended in March of this year, along with a whole raft of new SME initiatives, to include issues relating to unfair practices in the supply chain.

The Cabinet Office has said that it will investigate all cases brought to it under the Mystery Shopper scheme. Some 49 additional cases have been lodged since mid-February, according to Allott, bringing the total to 200.

In February the government had said that 75 percent of cases had resulted in a "positive outcome".

There has been a push in recent months by the government to encourage public sector departments and agencies to use SMEs in procuring IT solutions, in a bid to move away from lengthy and costly deals with large vendors.

One of the core examples of this was seen in the announcement of the government's CloudStore, where 50 percent of the suppliers signed up to the G-Cloud framework are SMEs.

Chris Chant, director of the G-Cloud, told Computerworld UK shortly after the release of the CloudStore that traditional suppliers should be concerned about losing their dominance in providing services to the public sector.

"Would I be worried if I was one of the traditional SIs? I'd be terrified," said Chant.

"I know people that are paying over £2,000 a month for compute services, which are now available on the CloudStore for less than £200. I don't know much about business, but it seems to me that if I were in their position I'd be a bit concerned."

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