The UK government handed about twice as much cash to large firms for 'digital services' than small ones over the past four months – but still brags about helping SMEs "flourish".
According to Digital Marketplace data, in the four months to 31 July 2018 just 15 £1 million-plus deals went to small, medium or micro firms.
Some £124.8m was awarded to large tech suppliers through the Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework, and £207.3m through the G-Cloud marketplace.
In contrast, £57.3m and £151.3m went to small, medium and micro firms through the two frameworks respectively.
However, a canned statement from government trumpeted the balance across the whole lifetime of the frameworks, since 2012 – obscuring the fact recent spending has seen giants like Atos, Capgemini and IBM walk away with the most cash.
Indeed, the largest deal for this period – procured through the G-Cloud framework in June 2018 – was a £25.7m agreement for cloud hosting between reseller CDW and the Department for Education: CDW is the largest tech reseller on the planet with a turnover surpassing $15bn in 2017.
Another sticking point is that some £23.6m of the G-Cloud spend went to "unclassified" businesses, a category that includes Amazon Web Services, Salesforce.com and Workday – all clearly tough firms to pigeon hole, what with their multibillion-dollar revenues.
El Reg has pointed out the government's blind spot on AWS before, as the previous batch of G-Cloud figures showed that departments were procuring services via its UK arm – which is classed as an SME.
Among the bodies continuing the government's love-in with Bezos' cloudy giant were the Home Office, Transport for London, HMRC and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency. Even national technology advisor Liam Maxwell is leaving the public sector for a role at AWS.
Meanwhile, the biggest Digital Outcomes and Specialists deal was a £4.7m contract from the Home Office awarded Atos in June. The next highest were £3.4m and £3.2m sales between BJSS and NHS Digital and the Home Office respectively. IBM, Capita, Kainos, Deloitte and BAE Systems all pulled in agreements worth more than £2m.
And the government's talk about supporting innovative small businesses rings even more hollow when it becomes clear how many awards go to consultancies.
For example, the biggest award to a micro firm in Digital Outcomes and Specialists was to Agilesphere – a consultancy that advertises services "defining agile, digital transformation and delivery strategies".
It won two £1m deals from the Ministry of Justice over the four-month period; hopefully its services won't be too little too late, as the department is already knee-deep in a range of risky IT projects.
And the pearl clutching about these two frameworks demonstrating Whitehall's commitment to smaller businesses is, of course, nothing compared to other major IT contract spending – not to mention the ongoing internal wars over the Government Digital Service. ®