The Government has announced plans to publish guidance aimed at helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to compete for public contracts.
The Department of Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform said that the circular, entitled ‘Initiatives to Assist SMEs in Public Procurement’, would replace the existing Circular 10/2014.
It added that the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) website would be updated with further practical guidance, once the circular was published.
The new measures will include:
- An increase to the threshold at which all contracts for goods and services must be advertised on eTenders – from €25,000 to €50,000 (exclusive of VAT),
- An increase to the threshold at which all contracts for works must be advertised on eTenders – from €50,000 to €200,000 (exclusive of VAT),
- Updated general measures covering governance, reaffirming the principles underpinning all public procurement, and the applicability for works procurement,
- Enhanced measures that public bodies should take to promote transparency,
- Specific measures that public bodies should take to promote SME participation,
- A reminder to public bodies of their obligations on the use of central procurement arrangements,
- A reiteration of the role that eTenders, the national e-tendering platform, can play in promoting SME participation, and
- Updated guidance for insurance levels for supplies and general services.
The OGP has advised, however, that the new circular will not take effect until publication, and that public buyers should continue to use Circular 10/2014 for the moment.
The Small Firms Association (SFA) has welcomed the announcement of the new circular, which has been developed in collaboration with the association and other industry groups.
“Public buyers need to be more conscious of our small firms, and this updated circular helps to promote indigenous firms’ involvement in public-sector procurement,” said Elizabeth Bowen (SFA public affairs lead).