New Guidance Note for Public Sector Suppliers

The National Procurement Service (NPS) has published a new guidance notice for companies involved in public procurement. It identifies practical solutions to challenges companies typically face. There was also a notice published for public sector buyers to assist them in interpretation of good procurement practice.

The notices are primarily directed at challenges for SMEs when tendering for public sector contracts because the SME sector normally carriers approximately 80% of the costs associated with each procurement process. However, some of the measures are relevant to all suppliers and fall within three broad categories:
  • Market analysis;
  • Costs of tendering;
  • Tax clearance certificates.

The NPS Working Group to Assist SMEs was consulted in the drafting of the notice.

Current Position:
The documents provide clarification on certain issues around tax-compliance issues and encouraging use of Prior Information Notices (PINs) but more needs to be done around ensuring that there is a level playing field for all economic operators wishing to participate in public tendering. 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. Contracting authorities must also be more strategic with regards to tendering in order to secure more innovative products and services. They can stimulate demand-driven innovation by describing their needs in a broad and performance-based way, which enables bidders to propose a wide variety of solutions.

Public procurement officials need to enable strategic tendering through the use of the full range of tendering procedures such as competitive dialogue and be pragmatic with regards to terms and conditions. Our drive to establish Irish companies in foreign markets can be facilitated through references gained in Ireland and developing innovative products/solutions. Ireland should be a flagship for procuring innovative products. Public sector bodies need to showcase good examples of innovative products and services.

The National Procurement Service is committed to continuing to enhance SME participation in the public procurement marketplace. As the Working Group discussions develop over the coming months and issues are identified, the NPS will issue further updates to Buyers and Suppliers.