Government to make it easier for Irish SMEs to bid for public contracts

25th April 2014

New government guidelines have been announced to make it easier for smaller firms to bid for public contracts.
 
SME representatives have long been complaining that the Irish government sidelines small firms from public procurement.
 
Under the new framework, buyers must consider breaking contracts into separate lots; enabling smaller firms to compete for each element.
 
Buyers are also being urged to encourage small firms to form consortia if they are not of a sufficient size to tender in their own right.
 
Brendan Howlin, public expenditure and reform minister, believes the new measures will improve SME access to public sector jobs.
 
“The public sector has massive purchasing power, spending in the region of €8.5bn each year on goods and services, in addition to expenditure on public works,” said Howlin.
 
“Taxpayers demand that Government secures value for money in all of its spend but in a way that also recognises the importance of SMEs to our economy.”
 
Brian Hayes, junior finance minister, said public procurement reform was a vital element of Ireland’s public sector reform programme.
 
“Our goal is to ensure that it gets easier for businesses to engage with public procurement while at the same time driving improved value for money for the taxpayer,” added Hayes.
 
Under the new guidelines, public sector buyers will also be instructed to undertake sufficient market analysis ahead of tendering, in order to better understand the range of goods and services on offer and the specific capabilities for SMEs.
 
While the reforms appear encouraging. Chambers Ireland said the proof will be in the overall take-up.
 
Sean Murphy, deputy chief executive at Chambers Ireland, said: “Real success will be evident through an increase in the number of local businesses being awarded contracts.
 
“We cannot afford to have another four years of too many SMEs being effectively excluded from public procurement.”

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