How might UK Government use open-data to onboard more SMEs as suppliers to the public sector?

Atos offered to host a hackathon for a Government organisation to look at how Government could use data to get more small and medium sized companies (SMEs) involved in becoming suppliers to the public sector. To do this, Atos engaged with a directors of small companies who were not currently suppliers to the public sector to find out why. The results were interesting. The Directors wanted proof that the Public Sector would indeed place work with organisations like them.  Many had heard politicians speak about the desire to work with more SMEs but were not convinced. If we could use data to show that Government was indeed placing business with SMEs, then the Directors would be motivated to give it a go.

During the Hackathon, teams worked on different ways of using data to show how much was being spent with SMEs.  It was decided to focus on the G-Cloud procurement framework as this was viewed as an easy way for SMEs to establish a contractual framework with Government. Teams worked on different views and ways of searching the data with Directors of SMEs guiding on what was useful and what was not.

From the hackday, the www.govspend.org.uk service was born.  The service still works today taking regular feeds of Government spend data and allowing members of the public to search and query the data.

The data shows that Government has been successful in using G-Cloud to expand the number of SMEs supplying to Government.  Data shows that over 2,000 SMEs are now suppliers to Government via G-Cloud receiving in more than £650m in 2018.  The GovSpend service has over 3,000 regular users. 

The graph shows the evolution of spend with SMEs via G-Cloud and DOS frameworks since 2012.

Hackathon details:

  • Participating companies: Atos, SMEs, Government
  • Total number of teams participating: 8
  • Team size: 3-5 people
  • Team formation: usually a tech team (1 – 3 people) + a government person + a SME Director
  • Costs: People paid their own travel. Atos provided beer and pizzas. Total cost of about £500
  • How was the hackathon’s challenge set: The challenge came from the Government Department – how do we get more SMEs involved in supplying to the Public Sector. Atos proposed the Hackathon. 
  • Date: October 2013
  • Duration: 8 hours

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