The government will be creating fewer frameworks going forward, and will be cancelling three major framework agreements, in a bid to attract a wider range of suppliers, including SMEs.
Frameworks, which 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.
The news comes after a comprehensive internal review, where the government procurement service (GPS) recently put a hold on all upcoming frameworks.
Frameworks have been criticised in the past for generating a lot of waste, where many suppliers spend money to bid for work and get listed on the agreements, but then often aren't selected for any work. The government argues that these costs eventually end up costing the public sector, not suppliers.
When frameworks are agreed in the future, it is likely that fewer suppliers will be selected, in a bid to remove this waste.
"We are already operating as one joined-up commercially savvy 'single' client. Through this we're identifying savings across Government ICT contracts for the taxpayer, getting the best deals, and flagging future opportunities to make sure we really are opening up Government business to a broader range of suppliers," said Chloe Smith, Cabinet Office parliamentary secretary.
"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."
The cancelled agreements include the Application Development, Delivery and Support Services (ADDSS), Hosting Services, and Service Integration & Management Services (SIAM) frameworks. However, the G-Cloud and Public Services Network agreements will continue, as these are considered by government chiefs to be strategically important to the direction of IT in the public sector.
Government sources have said that they do not expect any legal challenges to the decision to drop the frameworks by suppliers who will have incurred costs by bidding to be listed on the agreements. It is also understood that feedback from suppliers to the overall change in strategy has been largely positive.
In a bid to deliver on the government's attempts to act as a single commercial entity with suppliers, it has also been revealed that the GPS, Efficiency and Reform Group (EFG) and other government departments will be more closely integrated going forward.
"Bold action is necessary if we are to find greater efficiencies whilst attracting more innovative suppliers and supporting growth," said Bill Crothers, Government Chief Procurement Officer.
"After looking at the current frameworks in use, we've decided to cease the Application Development, Delivery and Support Service (ADDSS) and Hosting Services procurements from today and Service Integration & Management Services (SIAM) 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."
In other news, the Government Procurement Service and the Government Digital Service (GDS) have agreed the need for a new 'digital procurement framework', which aims to provide government departments access to a pool of suppliers of agile software development.
It is hoped that the framework will support the government's recently unveiled Digital Strategy, which outlined plans to digitise thousands of transactions used by the public, in a bid to save the public sector £1.7 billion a year after 2015.