Maximising Procurement Opportunities for SMEs

According to the 2012 Action Plan for Jobs, there are particular opportunities for new and established SMEs to secure new business and employment. As an initial step, the National Procurement Service has established a new Working Group to Assist SMEs, of which the SFA is a participant.

Other measures include:
  • ensure pre-qualification criteria are proportionate;
  • assign advisers, mentors, and Business Accelerators with specific public sector knowledge to advise and help firms win more sales from procurement;
  • identify a number of key projects across Government that will provide sub-contracting and supply chain opportunities for SME through pre-qualification panels;
  • Enterprise Ireland and local authorities to promote supply opportunities from indigenous businesses;
  • new campaign to promote eTenders portal;
  • new initiative to promote innovative public procurement.

Given the importance of SMEs to the Irish economy, a level playing field is needed for all economic operators wishing to participate in public tendering. The benefits of higher SME participation in the public procurement process are twofold: first, it would promote competition for public contracts; second, it would allow companies to innovate.

However, there are a number of recent measures designed to facilitate better access by SMEs to public sector opportunities that have not been acted upon. These include Circular 10/10 - Facilitating SME Participation in Public Procurement (August 2010); and Buying Innovation: The 10 Step Guide to SMART Procurement and SME Access to Public Contracts (July 2009).