I read with interest this week about the members of IBEC complaining about the public procurement process. If, like many of my SME clients, you have been trying to work with the Irish public procurement process you probably gave a little chuckle and moved on to your daily chores.
The problem is not necessarily the process - more the rules of engagement. The IBEC survey showed that the problems exist across the public sector, including central government, local government or state agencies. Common complaints discussed in the IBEC survey, aside from the reduction in government expenditure, included:
• length of the procurement process
• emphasis on price instead of value-for-money
• administrative burden
• late payment to suppliers
• unfriendly environment for SMEs.
In light of the above it seems to me that the supposed efforts by Government to reform public procurement has been a disaster and slower than Irish SMEs can afford in the current climate. We desperately need real and lasting change in practice and culture. Largely because addressing the public procurement process is an expensive exercise for bidding suppliers. Let’s hope the powers that be hear our voices.