Public procurement is an important driver for economic growth and employment and its creative use can help maximise the impact of public spending. At a difficult time in the Irish economy with much less money around the administration is required to govern in a different way. So how we use procurement to best effect and best value has become increasingly important.
The problems around EU procurement are complex and far from new. Initially, EU Directives were designed to ensure transparency and non-discrimination, leading to outcomes which represent good value for money. But there has been a growing sense amongst Irish businesses that when it comes to EU procurement rules, the current system simply doesn’t function fairly and that our continental neighbours (and competitors) manage to support their domestic industry in a way that simply doesn’t happen enough in Ireland. This is bad for the Irish economy.
Added to this, the quality of procurement practise across the public sector varies markedly and part of the problem is that there is still a fragmented approach with many departments operating in silos and purchasers often hiding behind EU law as ‘the problem’.
Ireland's public procurement market amounts to billions annually, so it is an important market for SMEs to be able to access. However, public contracts have been difficult for SMEs to win because the tendering processes tend to favour larger and foreign companies that have more resources.
The Government states that it is seeking to promote competition, innovation and value for money in the delivery of public services. To achieve this goal it is important to ensure that public sector practices do not disadvantage SME businesses, as they account for 99% of businesses, 60% of employment and a large part of the creative ideas for new technologies comes from SMEs.
Further information is contained in the ISME discussion document on Public Procurement:
SMEs who wish to submit a consortium bid should read the following guidelines:
Tender Advisory Service (TAS)
In December 2014 Minister Harris announced a new Tender Advisory Service (TAS). The service was piloted from February 1st, 2015 and allows suppliers to raise concerns about live tenders during the procurement process. The service is an informal one and will in no way impede the rights of individuals to pursue their rights formally under the Remedies legislation.
Further details on the service can be found here.