Does controversial IBM presentation to federal government panning SMEs still hold true today? by Jon Hansen

Posted on February 25, 2014


Nearly 9 years ago, I received an e-mail from Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance President and CEO John Reid.

In it, he shared with me the comments from a less than happy vendor who related the details of a presentation by Neil McPhedran from IBM regarding the creation of the new SME Office and the company’s views on the viability of SMEs pursuing government contracts.

Here is an except from that e-mail:

I am writing to make you aware of the details of a recent IBM presentation to senior procurement offices/management at PWGSC regarding procurement changes to commodity products.  It raises serious questions regarding the openess, transparency, fairness and integrity of the process, in light of the correspondence between CATA and PWGSC and commitments by the Minister . . .

. . . At the meeting, Neil McPhedran of IBM was called on to provide briefing and guidance to the Group.  In referring to the graph on slide 12 of his presentation, Mr. McPhedran explained to the audience, that the announcement of the creation of the SME Office was simply that: an announcement that it would carry no weight.  He went on to say that under PWGSC’s new direction, there was very little room for SMEs due to their limited resources, limited expertise and uncertain viability.  The specific quote from Mr. McPhedran was “SME’s don’t ascribe to commodity management therefore there is no place for them in ours.”

The author of the e-mail went on to say that he found McPhedran’s comments “offensive” and was dismayed at the fact that a “hired gun is dictating Federal Government policy especially regarding something as vitally important as the role of SME’s in the federal marketplace.”

So here is the question, nearly a decade after this e-mail was written, are SME’s any further ahead in terms of winning government business?

Share your thoughts on both the McPhedran presentation as well as the progression of SME opportunities in the public sector.


Posted in: Commentary