Reforms to EU public procurement laws to help SME’s!

Following a report by German green MEP Heide Rὕhle claiming that small & medium sized companies (SME’s) are disadvantaged when completing public procurement tenders, the Commissioner said that “simplification is the first priority” and / he would end the requirement to supply endless documents during the bidding phase – thank goodness! In place the bidders will have to produce a “solemn declaration” with only the successful bidder required to produce the documentation. It was interesting that he highlighted (presumably, across Europe?) that only 5% of contracts were awarded electronically and that steps were in place to increase e-procurement.

In addition, the “lowest price” criterion by which contracts are automatically awarded should be ended and “the most advantageous contract in terms of economic, social and environmental benefits” the recommended replacement. The report was formally adopted during the daily voting session on the 25th October 2011.

Public procurement back in February 2011 included within their proposals / that the prequalification process remains administratively burdensome, unnecessarily repetitive and a drain on resources and it seems that / the government is proposing to eliminate PQQs entirely for all central government procurements below £100,000.

In addition, Supply Management recently highlighted the EU Remedies Directive which took effect in December 2009 and is now starting to bite / with a sudden tide of litigation! Great – that to me means more cost to us the taxpayer in paying for legal cases.

Anything that helps simplify and speed up the overall tendering process is good. I sometimes feel the need scream very loudly here at The Sourcing Team offices when it comes to tendering for public sector business. I know many share the feelings – huge amounts of information at prequalification (PQQ) stage, the filling out of, in many cases, awful templates and that’s just to be get to the invitation to tender. Then the tenders themselves – and very often dates and feedback are not met or supplied after all that work? My concern for public sector is that they are missing out on some very exciting, innovative and “best value” suppliers because frankly, it’s made such hard work for often, not particularly valuable contracts. Sadly, the process doesn’t work for SME’s and it needs an enormous amount of change – ideally, led by someone who actually, understands the world of the SME.

“Fit for purpose” is what I think we all want to see – knowing our money is being spent wisely, and eliminating waste – for the bidders and the local authorities. Time is precious and there should be more respect for the time of an SME – Heide is on the right lines!