Tag: Public contracts

Changes to EU Procurement Rules have raised costs and hampered effective purchasing

A survey by the Local Government Association published this week has revealed.  Although only a small pool, the result is interesting as it makes you wonder if this is a common trend across government. Only 36% of respondents believe that the EU Remedies Directive has led to more efficient and effective procurement practices.

The Remedies Directive aims to strengthen the hand of losing suppliers to challenge contracts under the OJEU. It highlights steps suppliers can take to challenge the award of a public contract. A key change is the remedy of “ineffectiveness” which gives courts the powers to scrap a contract in particular circumstances including,  if it has not been advertised, the “standstill” period has been ignored or if the rules governing a framework agreement have been broken.

Modernisation of the European Public Procurement Market

European map with EU stars

Public procurement accounts for roughly 17% of the European Union’s GDP. In times of tight budgets and economic difficulties in many Member States, public procurement policy must ensure the most efficient use of public funds, with a view to supporting growth and job creation. This would require flexible and user-friendly tools that make transparentEuropean map with EU stars and competitive contract awards as easy as possible for European public authorities and their suppliers. With these objectives in mind, the European Commission has  launched a consultation which will focus on the modernisation of the rules, tools and methods for public procurement. The deadline for responses to the Green Paper is 18 April 2011.

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The launch of specifications for sustainable procurement and collaborative working offers a powerful strategic weapon for purchasers and suppliers

The launch of specifications for sustainable procurement and collaborative working offers a powerful tool for suppliers and purchasers.   Lord Jones, former director-general of the CBI, believes they should form part of any organisation’s strategic weaponry. UK businesses operate in a highly competitive global environment where agility, efficiency and innovation are the watchwords of success and standardisation weaponry.

Suppliers that comply with standards often have a competitive advantage as buyers will often use compliance to choose between comparable suppliers. Standardisation also promotes interoperability along the supply chain and provides the competitive edge that is necessary for effective worldwide trading.

BS 8903:2010 launched in Summer 2010 set out the principles and framework for sustainable procurement and also provides practical advice on the implementation of the framework practices. It has been developed by participants drawn from many sources including the private sector, pressure groups and the public sector.

BS 1100-1:2010, published October 2010, was developed with input from many industries and its longer term objective is to move to an ISO standard. It provides a strategic framework to improve collaborative relationships and explores partner selection, working together, value creation and relationship maturity.

With an increasing emphasis from buyers on this area, it is the wise supplier that will educate themselves on these standards to give themselves the competitive edge, that Lord Digby refers to.

Getting feedback at the pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) stage

Chart illustrating proportion of open, restricted, competitive dialogue and negotiated tendering procedures used in the UK and Europe

One of the most frequent questions we are asked at Tenders Direct is ‘Am I entitled to feedback if I get knocked out at the PQQ stage?‘ This is a very important question as pre-qualification is used much more often in the UK than in the rest of Europe. The chart below shows the relative proportion that each of the four main tender procedures (Open, Restricted, Competitive Dialogue or Negotiated) was used in the UK and in Europe.

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Just what can you do with a CAN?

Hands up who has heard of the Contract Award Notice (shortened to CAN for those with a particular love for procurement and tendering jargon like us)?

If you have heard of it, then you will know that the CAN is the official notification which must be published in OJEU by the contracting authority AFTER the contract has been awarded.  It details the name of the winning bidder, duration of the contract and the value (if the authority has played ball and included that).

When you receive your tender alert emails, remember to look at the document type in the top left hand corner first to check what kind of notification you are dealing with.  You don’t want to go asking the authority for contract documents for an opportunity which has already been awarded!  The different notice types are automatically organised into separate folders on Tenders Direct to avoid any confusion.

Whether you have or haven’t heard of the CAN, you might be wondering at this point how it can be of any relevance to you unless it has your name down as the winning bidder!?

Well don’t dismiss the CAN straight away as it does have its uses.

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Avoiding Risky Business

I recently attended our latest training courses on completing PQQs and Bid Writing. One of the messages I picked up was that the public sectors’ evaluation of suppliers is a lot like a risk assessment exercise.  Public sector authorities have to be scrupulous when spending tax-payers’ money.  They have to balance various priorities, including quality, budget, delivery, timescales, policies on equality, sustainability, supporting SMES and local businesses, and abiding by the relevant regulations, while also avoiding the risk of anything going wrong during the course of the contract.

So, as a supplier going through the tendering process, your task is not only to demonstrate to the purchasing authority that you can provide the requirement (and more if possible), but also that you can mitigate any risks that might be involved.

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Not winning any contracts?

Are you going for lots of tender opportunities but finding that you just can’t seem to get a look in?  Could you be guilty of bidding “blind”?

I sometimes get the sense that businesses new to public sector tenders (or sometimes even those with years of experience) think that on submitting a PQQ or a Bid,  as long as they’ve made some sort of submission, they’re in with as much  chance as anyone at  getting into the next round or winning the contract outright.  A bit like hoping your lottery numbers come up on a Saturday night or sending out reams of speculative CV’s on the hunt for a new job.

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Public contracts after the General Election

UK Party Leaders

Despite the three election debates, none of us are any the wiser precisely how the next Government will cut expenditure in order to pay off the financial deficit. We know that change is (hopefully) coming that will reduce the size of ‘Big Government’ and while change often brings threats, it also brings opportunities.

UK Party Leaders

UK Party Leaders

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Don’t Judge a Tender by its Title

Is it your job to find that golden opportunity hidden amongst hundreds of vaguely related tender notices?  How many tenders do you dismiss on title alone?  Well, you might just be missing some valuable business opportunities.

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How well do you know your buyer?

If you’re looking for new markets and have stumbled upon the public sector option – do not be misled into thinking it will be exactly the same as selling to a private sector client.

The private sector purchaser can largely suit themselves when it comes to what they buy, who they buy from and how much they pay.  But the public sector purchaser has a lot of different factors to take into consideration, not least that they are spending public money and have to comply with set processes and legislation.

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