CATAAlliance: Shared Services Canada (SSC) Q&A: Office of Small and Medium Enterprises
The Shared Services opportunities
When Shared Services Canada was established in August 2011 to consolidate the federal government's e-mail systems and data centres to cut costs and increase efficiency, the daunting task had many IT firms wondering how they could get some of the action.
Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance ,Shared Services QAQ , Office of Small and Medium Enterprises, Ottawa
Just over a year later, SSC’s president Liseanne Forand returned to the Government Technology Exhibition and Conference to announce that 6,000 employees have been recruited from various government departments with timelines set for a 2015 delivery.
“It’s not about being a service provider,” said Maurice Chénier, an SSC senior assistant deputy minister at a panel discussion hosted at GTEC this month. “It’s about bringing the service live in action.”
In the past, if 20 different departments needed more data, they would have bought 20 different packages, explained Kevin Radford, another senior assistant deputy minister. Now that the entire federal IT community is linked, they will only have to do it once.
Soon, one e-mail system will replace the nearly 100 that exist today, and 300 data centres will be reduced to 20.
An October report conducted by MarketWorks, an Ottawa-based consulting firm, shows that the majority of federal IT providers are well-established companies that have been working with the federal government for more than 10 years, and most derive almost half of their revenues from government IT sales.
The small and medium-sized companies consulted in the survey reported that business was down 10 to 25 per cent on average, with most companies on the high end of the spectrum.
But it’s important to remember that non-SSC IT contracts are still available, the report added. Of the federal government’s $4.75 billion IT budget, only $1.75 billion of it is being used for the SSC transformation.
“It’s very easy to think that everything is being driven by Shared Services, therefore if I’m a small to mid-sized business, why would I keep working closely to cultivate relationships with individual departments?” said John Reid, president of the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance.
“That couldn’t be further from the truth. You should retain those relationships and approach them,” he said.
SIDEBAR: Shared Services Q&A
Q: What process(es) do businesses have to go through to apply for contracts with SSC?
A: SSC competitive tenders are open to all potential bidders, subject to the individual requirements of the specific tender. All bids submitted are evaluated on their individual merits and their compliance to the requirements of the specific competitive tender. The majority of SSC tenders are posted on Merx.
Q: Does SSC encourage smaller companies to partner up in order to fulfill larger contracts, or are there enough smaller contracts that SMEs are eligible for?
A: SSC does not influence any companies (small, medium, or large) on how best to respond to competitive tenders. All competitive tenders are open to all interested bidders and each proposal is evaluated on its individual merits. SSC has a number of requirements for goods and services in which small and medium-sized enterprises are competitive and have been successful in winning business with SSC.
Q: What do small and medium-sized companies need to know in order to make themselves visible to SSC?
A: Vendors should contact the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises, which has been set up by the government specifically to assist small and medium enterprises in understanding how to do business with all government departments.
Q: How many deals has SSC done so far, whether completed, still in progress, or yet to begin?
A: SSC is currently responsible for approximately 3,000 contracts resulting in approximately 6,000 individual transactions.
Q: What types of business have those contracts primarily dealt with?
A: The largest proportion, both in the number and value, of contracts awarded have been for goods and services related to telecommunications and networking. Contracts for goods and services related to data centres also represent a large proportion of the contracts.
Source: Marie-Hélène Rouillard, SSC’s media relations specialist