Long term vision rather than blind bureaucracy needed.
Conflicting goals of saving money and encouraging SMEs to supply must be managed.
Ombudsman still required for Public Procurement process.
ISME, the Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association, has welcomed the changes in government procurement announced today by Junior Minister Brian Hayes but warned that much more needs to be done to assist hard-pressed Irish SMEs obtain government contracts.
Speaking after the launch of the ‘Initiatives to assist SMEs in Public Procurement’ document, ISME CEO, Mark Fielding said, “we welcome the fact that some changes are being made as a result of our lobbying, however this initiative must be followed through with real action on the ground to ensure that deserving Irish SMEs get a fair ‘crack of the whip’ when it comes to public procurement”.
“The bottom line is that the national procurement system must be designed with a “long term vision”, “whole life cost model” and from a “think small first” perspective, whereas, to date, it has been guilty of simple ‘blind bureaucracy’”
International research shows that developing a strong SME base will increase competition in public procurement, which will provide government with better value for money and increased efficiency in public procurement.
The Government should rethink its stance on procurement. It must recognise that procurement decisions must take long term national economic interest into account. Focusing solely on achieving the lowest possible tender price today, will lead to a narrow supplier base tomorrow, with reduced incentives to improve quality and innovate, making it harder to achieve value for money in the long term and ultimately result in reduced economic growth.
“The one glaring omission is the absence of a Public Procurement Ombudsman to hear complaints from SME suppliers in the public procurement process. When a business has valid concerns over unfair practices it must have access to an independent body to adjudicate and decide on redress. The transparency of public procurement is important, especially in the early stages of the Office of Government Procurement, when public buyers are inexperienced and prone to error to the detriment of the SME”, Fielding concluded.