back to article EC consults on procurement law overhaul

The European Commission plans to change the way that public procurement in the EU works, aiming to reform rules so that the process becomes easier and more transparent. It aims to encourage more smaller companies to participate, it said. EU rules govern the way that all public contracts above a certain amount are conducted in …

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  1. Is it me?

    Odds on a fix

    Government procurement is monumentally expensive, with often hundreds of pages of documentation required for even a relatively small contract making bidding for contracts expensive and time consuming, and not particularly transparent even to the people involved on both sides of the bid.

    A lot of the bureaucracy is a waste of space and could be done once, relatively quickly for any bidder, a tick list of do you comply with this or that piece of legislation or directive.

    But the bigger hurdle is the constant pressure to drive costs down, small contracts cost relatively more than large ones, and large government wide purchasing contracts will effectively lock out SMEs from government because they will not be able to offer the discounts or scope that multi-nationals can, and thus they become relegated to sub-contractors, which actually degrades their service. Be it building or IT, when a large framework, or outsourcing deal is struck, a lot of the services are provided by the third party providers, in fact often fourth or fifth party, who could obviously supply directly more cheaply, but just not at the scale government wants.

    And it's not just government, big supermarkets, banks and other chains do the same, they negotiate a national deal, and push the local problems off to the outsourcer, they save on direct management costs, and senior management time, but probably not on costs.

    The only way you can let smaller businesses into government contracting is by moving decision making on contracts back to lower, regional and local levels, and can you really see that happening.

    Yes, by all means cut the paperwork, and lower the entry costs, but it won't do much good on its own.

    I would guess the next step would be for an FM Outsourcer and an IT one to merge and then you could outsource everything to one player.

    Perhaps if UK PLC had more management balls and capability and less focus on their bonus we might have a much better market.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Still does not change anything

    Embezzlement and corruption will still prevent any small company from participating.

    It will still be more of the same until the anti-bribery laws forbid any exec holding a budget from working for a supplier for the next 2 years. Or vice versa.

    Not pointing any fingers... No need to...

  3. HighlightAll
    Gates Horns

    Microsoft can't bid

    Microsoft can't bid for tenders but its 'solutions' can be stipulated.

    Until that's fixed...

    1. opusvl

      Which is good news ..

      We need to push to have government projects assessed for their suitability for non-propriety solutions. There will always be occasions where the continuation of the existing track is appropriate but this needs to be the exception, not the rule.

  4. opusvl

    There may be hope ...

    What was a large IT project 10 or 20 years ago may now be a free piece of Open Source software which can be set up by an SME so the large costs and consultancy element of yesteryear is not always needed. The government has realised this and is trying to take advantage of it by investigating SME and Open Source solutions. However, the existing incumbent suppliers are resistant due to the appeal of keeping these projects on a large scale and the associated scale of fees.

    It is possible that this reform could open the doors to SME's but the SME's need to be organised and present a good case to the government. Sadly, this all takes time and money which many SME's do not have just now.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Hope on the horizon?

    Having been on both sides of public sector procurement, I can confirm it is a pain in the rear.

    The rules (and we do need some) basically come with 3 sizes of sledge hammer, regardless of what size nut you want to crack.

    Some fine tuning for an appropriate regulation (i.e. no £20k documentation exercises to buy a one off £1500 software package) would be appreciated.

    But the other big problem is the lack of knowledge of the procurement managers who force us go through needless hoops that aren't in the regs. I've even had one trying to correct their own qualified solicitor's statement as to what needed to be done to comply with the law!

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