Procurement News – Europe

EU asks Japan to open up procurement market in regional cities | The Japan Times

May 12 in Daily News by eisc No Comments

BRUSSELS – The European Union has asked Japan to open up its market for goods and services procurement in municipalities with a population of 100,000 or more as the two economic powers work toward signing a free trade agreement, EU documents and sources said Thursday.

While it remains unclear how many EU firms intend to enter the market, a Japanese government source said Tokyo cannot accept the EU’s request since it means about a third of Japan’s 790 municipalities would be subjected to the burden of changing their procurement procedures.

The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been expediting talks on the envisioned FTA, seeing such frameworks as necessary to achieving economic growth. Abe met with EU chiefs during his trip to Europe earlier this month and reaffirmed their intention to reach a broad agreement by the end of the year.

Japan’s 47 prefectures and most of the designated major cities are already required to hold bids on public projects without discriminating against foreign firms under the government procurement rules of the World Trade Organization. The EU’s request calls for expanding the scope.

The European Union initially sought to ask Japan to open all of its government procurement market but later decided to narrow the scope to cover relatively large municipalities, including Tokyo’s 23 wards, according to the sources and the documents.

The EU has also urged Japan to further open up the market for state-ordered construction projects by giving its firms access to smaller projects with costs as low as about ¥16 million, instead of the current ¥740 million and over.

Japan and the EU began the FTA negotiations in April 2013, with Tokyo seeking to eliminate EU tariffs on Japanese automobiles and electronic appliances and the EU seeking to enter Japan’s food market and get greater access to the railway market, among others.

Although Japan struck the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal with the United States and 10 other Pacific Rim countries in October, it did not budge in negotiations on government procurement.

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Government calls for innovative ideas to change public procurement

May 12 in Daily News by eisc No Comments

Purchasing professionals with proposals about how to radically transform public procurement may find a platform for their ideas in a new government consultation survey.

As part of its “call for ideas” for the National Innovation Plan, the government is seeking suggestions from the public to help develop innovation in the UK – and one of the main categories is how public procurement can be transformed.

A questionnaire asks respondents to suggest how the UK should develop a framework that encourages innovation and the power of procurement and customer demand to stimulate the development of innovative products.

The main question in the survey that is likely to concern SM readers is: “How can we deliver real culture change within public procurement?”

It asks respondents to suggest what government can do differently, what works well and what challenges businesses face when government is their customer.

“How can we work with innovative businesses to ensure innovation flourishes? How can we work together to be more innovative in our procurement approaches to achieve maximum value?” the survey asks.

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Civil Service interest in digital procurement from SMEs declines

May 10 in Daily News by eisc No Comments

Digital procurement from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is increasingly marginalised in the Civil Service, according to an annual survey.
The survey of nearly 1,500 civil servants found only 6% said they had access to a wide range of suppliers, compared to 19% in 2015.
Furthermore, 36% said they did not see the need for procuring digital from SMEs, an increase from 17% the previous year.
Only 21% of respondents said there was an appetite in their department to procure more digital technology from SMEs and only 16% said access to disruptive innovation would give government better value from the tech industry.
Julian David, CEO of techUK, said: “The findings clearly demonstrate a lack of understanding of the benefits of a broad supply base and the potential for innovative technologies to revolutionise public services, putting the government’s target to procure 33% of tech from SMEs in jeopardy.
“We must take a new approach to show – not tell – civil servants how new tech can transform both their working environment and the services they provide.”
A recent National Audit Office report criticised the government for a lack of focus in SME procurement.
The survey also found that civil servants felt their organisation lacked understanding of digital technology.
Only 14% of civil servants rate their department as having good digital capability, and only 20% agreed that their department had the appropriate skills to manage IT supplier contracts. Neither figure had decreased since the same survey was conducted last year.
However, the survey found that positive attitudes towards technology had increased.
Technology was described as an enabler by 31% of civil servants, compared to 22% in 2015, with 84% agreeing that it was crucial to delivering their department’s business plan.
Mobile working was increasingly popular, with 61% of respondents saying that it made them more efficient, compared to 40% last year.

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The challenge of balancing public sector cuts with social value

May 6 in Daily News by eisc No Comments

With the public sector remaining under pressure to increase efficiencies and demonstrate value for money, now is the perfect time for procurement to measure “the double bottom line”. 

As a result of operating in increasingly challenging climates, public sector organisations are placing even greater pressure on their procurement teams – with departments tasked to build business resilience by generating savings and demonstrating value for money.

Success of course is assessed on the reporting and measurement of efficiency gains – but since the introduction of the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, procurement has gained an added responsibility.

It is now considered best practice to embed social value within procurement activities – and this brings with it a whole host of social, quality, economic and environmental benefits.

Social value programmes are vital to supporting the growth, stabilisation and development of communities, and can offer a variety of positive outcomes – from tackling worklessness and social exclusion in disadvantaged areas to improving digital inclusion, reducing offending and supporting barriers to learning.

There is now more at stake than just seeking quality, while driving down cost and improving efficiencies.

Measuring the performance of social impact alongside efficiency gains, brings a new dimension to the concept of value for money – as this combination enables organisations to focus on generating savings that have a long-term impact past the point of commissioning.

Adopting this method can also increase service quality and lead to cross-departmental savings – in addition to creating opportunities for partnership working, and enhancing relationships with contractors and the supply chain.

At Fusion21, we practice this whole-package approach to procurement, and ensure that members accessing our procurement services also benefit from the generation of social value.

In the face of continued scrutiny – and amid ongoing cuts to budgets and services – securing sustainable and long-term savings will remain a high priority for the public sector.

The ability to report and measure efficiency gains alongside social impact has boosted the overall value of procurement – and I’m sure you’ll agree, the race to the double bottom line makes our jobs a lot more interesting. 

David Neilson is chief executive at Fusion21

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Has The Sun Just Discovered Public Procurement Regulations?

May 6 in Daily News by eisc No Comments

Last Friday saw an idiotic article in the Sun, featuring posh Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, who thought it was disgusting that EU public procurement rules actually apply to public procurement … who knows, those nasty foreigners might get their grubby hands on our great big clock. Yes, I said clock …
“THE £29 million restoration of Big Ben could be carried out by Polish builders and Romanian roofers due to barmy EU rules, The Sun can reveal. Parliament is being forced to offer lucrative contracts for repairing Britain’s most famous clock to foreign firms in the European Union – rather than making sure the work is carried out by UK tradesmen. That is because EU procurement rules require major taxpayer-funded works to be opened up across the continent in a deliberate attempt to stop “buy national” policies”.
Yes, EU procurement rules do require that, just as they require other countries to open up contracts to UK firms. It is called free trade and competition, and it is sad to see Conservative politicians – who should understand the positives of capitalism and market competition, you might think, taking such a stupid point of view.
“Fellow Tory Andrew Percy said: “If this was Canada or Australia or the United States we would be able to apply local procurement rules, but because of EU rules we can’t.”
“British people will be outraged to think rules from Brussels could force us to give foreign firms contracts to restore great British icon for no other reason that we are in the EU.”
Of course the whole thing is driven by the fact that The Sun is supporting an exit vote in the forthcoming EU membership referendum, so this is just one more bullet fired in that war. But don’t take our scorn for this article by the way as a sign that the Spend Matters editorial team are firmly “stay” rather than Brexit – I haven’t made my mind up yet. But whilst I can see some good reasons for leaving the EU, moving towards an ultra-protectionist stance on public procurement is not one of them.
Oh well, I suppose we should be excited that the largest selling newspaper in the country is featuring public procurement issues!

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And actually Canada and many other countries also open their procurement up to other countries including all the companies based in the European Union thanks to the agreement on procurement at WTO level…

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