A survey, details of which were revealed today at the Irish Software Association annual conference at O’Reilly Hall, UCD, shows Irish software SMEs are effectively ruled out of taking part in the Irish public procurement process.
Half of the software companies surveyed cited the “cost” of tendering for such work as a deterrent against participating in the process.
Shane Dempsey, Director, Irish Software Association said: ”Most software companies, many of which provide excellent solutions to other countries’ public sectors, find it difficult to get contracts in Ireland due to aspects of the procurement process.
The Government must be innovative and take steps to remove any measures that unnecessarily militate against SMEs. Software SMEs can offer excellent value-for-money options that increase productivity and efficiency, however, current procurement policies restrict officials from selecting these options.
“In most cases tender requirements are rigidly defined, removing any possibility for offering innovative solutions outside of the definitions. Consequently, superior solutions that could enable public sector bodies to provide excellent public services are ruled out from the outset. The ISA is calling on the public sector to engage more fully through an enhanced ‘Technical Dialogue’ procedure in advance of the tender being awarded, thereby enabling both parties to fully clarify the requirements of the tender.
“In addition, providing criteria that encourages partnering with SMEs for large contracts would be a win for both partners and ultimately the Irish public. “
The Irish public procurement market accounts for €9 billion per annum, or 4% of Irish GNP. Consequently, it has the potential to be a springboard for SMEs to access international markets. The key role of the public procurement process in driving demand for innovative goods and services was highlighted in an EU report ”Creating an Innovative Europe”, published in 2006