IT suppliers who wasted thousands of pounds bidding for public-sector work that never materialised have urged the government to rethink the way it tenders technology contracts.
Firms were left with a financial hangover when the website for the the Application Development Delivery Support Services (ADDSS) framework collapsed under the weight of submissions from suppliers. The system was eventually suspended when government procurement officials were unable to verify whether all of the submitted documents had been received.
The ADDSS was put under a review, and an upgrade for the online tool was promised.
The UK Cabinet Office confirmed just before Christmas it had decided to cancel both the £1bn ADDSS and the Hosting Services framework, but this was not before costs within channel firms had already racked up.
"We had four of our most senior people working on this bid [ADDSS] for four weeks, which meant they were off other projects. We are not blessed with thousands of people so the impact is material," said one.
The source at the business claimed the total cost for biding reached £25,000, but it seems his company was not alone is racking up sizeable expenses - another small firm echoed those sentiments and the level of expense incurred.
"We reckon it cost us in the region of £30,000 in time. We lose £1,000 in billable hours for every 7.5 hours a consultant works on a bid and management attends whole-day buyer events or partner meetings," the insider told The Channel.
The supplier said the Government Procurement Service (GPS) allowed the ADDSS process to run for nine months even though "it was an enormous waste of time and money for GPS and bidders, large and small".
Simplifying tenders and providing new and reliable ways of submitting bids should be considered, said our man.
Meanwhile, Government chief procurement officer Bill Crothers said last week that following a framework review "bold action" is required to seek out "greater efficiencies whilst attracting suppliers and supporting growth". ®
Updated to add
A Cabinet Office spokesman told The Channel after this story was published:
“One of the key findings of the ICT framework review was the importance of using the appropriate contracting vehicle for the requirement... After careful consideration, the Hosting Services and ADDSS procurements were stopped, as neither was in line with the findings of the review."
The Cabinet Office claims its new approach will make life easier for suppliers: “The new approach will allow suppliers to select which procurement opportunities are best suited to their capability," the spokesman said.
"We welcome feedback from SMEs where they feel processes can be improved and have appointed dedicated SME/Growth Champions as points of contact and advocates of change."