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New Public Procurement Rules Aimed at Encouraging SMEs to Bid

The Irish government has introduced new guidelines to make it easier for small business to bid for public contracts.

The new rules, provide for the sub-division of larger contracts into lots, where possible, and for the setting of relevant financial capacity, turnover and insurance levels for tendering firms proportionate to the situation of a particular contract. They also urge buyers to provide for the formation of a collaboration of smaller businesses to allow them to bid for public contracts.

Public sector buyers are supposed to analyze the market before tendering to better understand what is on offer, the capabilities of SMEs and the competitive landscape. To encourage innovation, tender documents should also indicate if buyers are prepared to accept reasonable variants to the specifications. Over €8 billion every year is spent by the public sector every year on goods and services.

“The reform of public procurement is a key element of the public sector reform programme,” Mr Hayes said. “Our goal is to ensure that it gets easier for businesses to engage with public procurement while at the same time driving improved value for money for the taxpayer.”

For the most part the guidelines were welcome, but many groups warned that there was more to come. The Business lobby and Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association was also hesitant about the contracts and suggested that there is more to be done to improve the ability for SMEs to obtain government contracts.

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