The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Coughlan, T.D. today published a new "smart" handbook titled Buying Innovation, The 10 Step Guide to SMART Procurement and SME Access to Public Contracts, intended for use by all public sector organisations. The handbook was published in conjunction with her launching the Report of the Procurement Innovation Group, Using Public Procurement to Stimulate Innovation and SME Access to Public Contracts.
Coughlan said that the 10 Step Guide was aimed at officials engaged in procurement activity across the public sector. She said that it included practical steps that would encourage innovation in the provision of goods and services to Government and increase SME access to public contracts.
"Smart" is the latest popular jargon term for ministers e.g. "smart economy," but it's in danger of becoming synonymous with spin if there nothing of credible substance underlying its use.
The documents will not be available online until Friday, July 24th, as the production has been delayed.
Launch presentation (PowerPoint)
The Tánaiste explained that that the purpose of this initiative is threefold. “Firstly, the policies and recommendations of the Procurement Innovation Group are designed to stimulate innovative business activity in Ireland, while improving the purchase, delivery and efficiency of public sector goods and services. Secondly, the initiative seeks to ensure a level playing field for all innovative companies wishing to participate in public tendering. Thirdly, the initiative aims to result in greater access for SME companies to public sector contracts.”
She said that in relation to SME access to public sector contracts that the initiative identifies a number of actions to be taken to break down barriers and facilitate improved access.“The public sector is a particularly important market for small businesses, so improving our public procurement practices by removing obstacles and boosting the involvement of SMEs is a key priority. Increasing the levels of SMEs bidding for public contracts should also result in higher competition, leading to better value for money and efficiencies for contracting authorities”.
Minister of State Martin Mansergh, whose Department is charged with oversight of the public procurement process, said: “Public procurement is an essential element of delivering better public services in Ireland. By fully embracing leading-edge procurement practices the Government can provide an important stimulus for investment in innovation by the wider business community. Good procurement practice will then enable the identification and procurement of those innovative solutions that provide long-term quality, value for money and sustainability.”
Frank Ryan, Chief Executive Officer of Enterprise Ireland said: "Purchasers who engage with the marketplace as early as possible before tendering become more knowledgeable customers. This is key to improving public procurement practices. This 10 Step Guide launched by the Tánaiste is a very welcome development. I particularly welcome the recommended actions to be taken to facilitate greater access by our SMEs to public contracts”.
Simultaneously, Ryan said Enterprise Ireland and various County Enterprise Boards are building capability in their client base, offering programmes and expertise to improve the quality of supplier submissions through initiatives such as one to one mentoring, group coaching and consortium building.
The Tánaiste concluded saying, “This is a practical initiative in public sector reform that will lead to tangible benefits for our economy and the citizens served by the public service. We hope that this will be the beginning of a new era, leading to smarter procurement of innovative goods and services, better value for the taxpayer and more public sector business for smaller enterprises.”
Finfacts has recently outlined how the public procurement process is a cornucopia for insiders:
The Waste Land - - Bord Snip, Irish Public Spending Transparency and the motto "Never do anything for the first time"