Improvements in SME Public Sector Tendering Process
Public sector tendering for construction projects in Ireland has often been seen as the preserve of larger operators, particularly for higher value commissions.
Small to medium sized engineers, architects, building contractors, civil engineering contractors and other building professionals should be aware that government reforms have been made to make the process more SME friendly.
The frustrating, time consuming and costly tender processes of the past have been replaced with a more user friendly system. While making the breakthrough to win commissions is still a challenge, it is clear that these reforms should open the door for SMEs to compete more efficiently for public sector projects.
These new public procurement guidelines that make it easier for small businesses to bid for work across the entire public sector were announced in April 2014 by Brian Hayes, T.D., the then Minister of State with special responsibility for Public Service Reform and the Office of Public Works.
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.
The new public procurement guidelines are set out in Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Circular 10/2014, which is downloadable at here. Circular 10/2014 replaces Department of Finance Circular 10/2010 and applies to all public sector bodies. Circular 10/2014 is a must read for decision makers in SMEs who are looking to increase their penetration onto the public sector construction market.
DFCE would encourage SME’s to use the contents of Circular 10/2014 to challenge contracting authorities who, in their opinion, are not applying the proportionate qualifying criteria to a proposed project.