Government says it’s made £12bn worth of work available to SMEs

With the new Public Sector Contract, a small organisation or company with no dedicated legal team will be better able to understand and adapt public sector bids to its needs, promise GDS, CCS and the Government Legal Department

Posted 9 January 2018 by

‘Thousands’ of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be able to bid for up to £12bn of government contracts more easily thanks to a new ‘Public Sector Contract’.

The Contract is the result of 50,000 words of existing Crown Commercial Service (CCS) contract terms being boiled down by government lawyers into a new slimline form, said the government yesterday – with the result being a “more user-friendly route” to government work and a quicker, more streamlined way of working.

Even better, claims Whitehall: not having to wade through dense contracts will save money and resources not only for SMEs but also within government itself.

The Public Sector Contract is a collaborative effort by the Government Digital Service (GDS), focusing on user research, content design and interaction design, the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) and the legal review of both Government Legal Department (GLD) and law firm DLA Piper.

The work involved the input of a specialist from the GLD and a content designer from the Digital Marketplace team at GDS, who went through the entire draft document line by line, “cutting and trimming the more opaque legalese” and getting rid of any duplication, so that the meaning was clearer and more comprehensible for non-lawyer users.

One of the major immediate benefits to vendors is that a small organisation or company that does not have a dedicated legal team will now be better able to understand and adapt the Contract to its needs by merely selecting those elements it needs to apply. “Some smaller organisations that may not have extensive procurement experience [as they are] are run by skilled people but they won’t always have the resources to deal with complex contracts,” said the GLD lawyer involved in the redesign, Chris Stanley.

“Without a user-friendly government framework they are likely to pay a far higher price for goods and services using less favourable terms.”

The trip claim the new Contract will not only make it easier for companies to bid for government work but will also establish a benchmark for good business ethics by integrating some new corporate social responsibility obligations.

Digital Marketplace Director Warren Smith said the collaboration shows One Team government working at its best and “gives us a solid platform on which to build further reforms”, while Jason Waterman, Director at the Crown Commercial Service, adds: “This will set a new standard for government contracts, bringing our offering in line with the very best in commercial practice.”

In case you’re wondering where that £12bn figure comes from; it’s the sum the government says is spent on Facilities Management contracts alone in the public sector per year, suggesting the final figure of potential work for SMEs could be even bigger – on paper, at least.