Features, PublicNet: 11 April, 2014

Criticism of the processes for procuring goods and services in the UK has grown steadily over the years. Compared to other EU member states, procurement in the UK was more costly and took longer. In this article Pedro Paulo explains the changes being made and he describes the benefits for the different stakeholders.

Government spending in the UK has long been concentrated on vast contracts made with giants among their industry. Large multinational companies continue to win multi-year, multi-billion pound government deals, and smaller firms are left feeling unable to compete.

The European Parliament recently agreed to support a package of new procurement directives which have been designed, amongst other aims, to help European Union member states to cut red tape and boost participation by small and medium businesses in public sector procurement competitions.

With the introduction of a standard “European Single Procurement Document” based on self-declarations, it is hoped that the new directives will make for a simpler bidding process, as only the winning bidder will have to provide original documentation. This document in itself is estimated by the European Parliament to reduce the administrative load on companies by over 80 percent, making it significantly easier for SMEs to bid for public sector contracts.

Additionally, in a move that is hoped to save SMEs up to 60 percent of current bidding costs, the new directives will require public sector organisations to break large contracts into smaller lots which should make them more accessible to smaller businesses.

The UK government has welcomed the support for these reforms, having been working to deliver a number of measures to ensure that SMEs have a greater involvement in public sector procurement. Their aim is that, by 2015, 25 percent of government spend will be with smaller businesses.

The current state of UK public sector procurement