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New public procurement guidelines for small businesses announced

Government Makes It Easier for Small Businesses to Tender for Public Sector Contracts

New public procurement guidelines that make it easier for small businesses to bid for work across the entire public sector were announced last Thursday by Brian Hayes, T.D., Minister of State with special responsibility for Public Service Reform and the Office of Public Works.

Building on the range of supports that the Government has already put in place to encourage small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to bid for public contracts, and recognising good practice across the public sector, the new guidelines will make public procurement more accessible by SMEs.

The new guidelines promote the setting of relevant and proportionate financial capacity, turnover and insurance levels for tendering firms and the sub-dividing larger contracts into lots, where possible, to enable SMEs to bid for these opportunities. The guidelines also encourage SMEs to form consortia where they are not of sufficient scale to tender in their own right and to register on www.etenders.gov.ie to ensure maximum exposure to tendering opportunities.

Speaking at the launch, Minister of State Hayes said, "The reform of public procurement is a key element of the 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. The new Office of Government Procurement is commencing its operations this year and is key to bringing a more professional and whole of government approach to procurement."

Minister of State Hayes added, "Government wants to see Irish business be competitive and win business both here and abroad. Businesses who are successful in winning public contracts often win repeat business and given the consistent nature of public procurement processes, are often well placed to win public business abroad. The Office of Government Procurement is working with industry representatives and the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to improve supplier education through initiatives such as Meet the Buyer events which have been running since 2010 and the very popular Go 2 Tender programme, to standardise and simplify the processes for suppliers, and to reduce impediments and unnecessary bureaucracy in procurement."

Welcoming today’s announcement the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Mr Brendan Howlin T.D. said, "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. Tax-payers 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. The measures announced today will further improve small businesses’ access to the public sector market by making government procurement more SME-friendly, reflecting not only the vital importance of SMEs to our economic recovery but also the significant value these suppliers are delivering to all parts of the public sector."

The new guidelines have also been welcomed by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD who said: "Procurement is a huge opportunity for Irish business. Over €8billion is spent by the Government every year on goods and services provided by business – it is difficult to overstate the benefits that would accrue to Irish business of making it easier for them to win more of these contracts. As part of the Action Plan for Jobs we have been working hard with Minister Hayes, Minister Howlin and their Departments to deliver changes that can make a difference for Irish business in this area. Today’s announcement marks real progress on this road – I and my Department will continue to engage with the Office of Government Procurement to deliver further improvements to make a real difference for hard-pressed Irish businesses".