Procurement News – Europe

Government to introduce commercial sanctions against companies endorsing precarious work

January 26 in Daily News by eisc No Comments

“The Government is determined to strengthen public procurement in a manner that will reinforce the Government’s strategic direction in the environmental, social, and labour law sectors,” said Minister for Finance Edward Scicluna, speaking during an information seminar on EU Public Procurement Directives.
The seminar was attended by government officials, officials from contracting authorities, as well as private sector economic operators.
Scicluna stressed the importance of public procurement, as it represents the manner in which the government and its entities engage in economic consumption.
“The Maltese government, as a whole, consumes intermediate goods to the tune of €500 million each year. Together with public investment, this makes up between 10% and 12% of GDP.”
Scicluna explained how the European Parliament and European Council in collaboration with the EU Commission, on the 26th of February 2014, declared three new public procurement Directives, which Malta is currently transposing into Maltese Law.
Scicluna said that the Government is looking toward public procurement as a means through which it can further implement its strategic direction in the environmental, social, and labour law sectors.
Scicluna noted efforts to introduce Green Procurement standards into public procurement, so that the Government can lead by example by ensuring that all goods and services it makes use of, respect certain environmental standards.
“In the coming days, the Government would be taking a similar step in the industrial relations sector, thereby fulfilling a long-awaited electoral pledge,” he added.
“The Government has promised to address precarious work, and is taking action by resorting to other sanctions. The Government will be publishing a Legal Notice which will introduce commercial sanctions against errant companies who employ workers in precarious conditions,” Scicluna said.
Scicluna said that the legal notice will establish a Commercial Sanctions Tribunal, which will be empowered to blacklist companies from participating in government public procurement, who are found guilty of being in violation of a number of criteria.
He added that in the coming months, the Government would extend this sanctioning to money laundering activities and other illegal activities as well.
“It is essential that public procurement be done in an equitable, transparent, fair, and prompt manner,” Scicluna said.
Scicluna said that the government is ensuring that all contracting authorities receive the necessary training and innovative technology to facilitate and accelerate this essential economic activity.
“Both the Contracts Committee and the Public Contracts Review Board are carrying out sterling work in cutting down unnecessary red tape when it comes to public procurement.”
“This is an intrinsic part of the Government’s aim to reduce bureaucracy, which means ensuring that economic activity is not held up to the detriment of the operator and the government itself,” Scicluna said.
“The Government will be setting the bar by saying: ‘As a consumer, I refuse to accept tenders from companies who do not respect certain standards in these fields.’ In this way, the Government will be leading by example.”


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Government should make procurement simpler for small charities, parliamentary group hears

January 22 in Daily News by eisc No Comments

Government should do more to make procurement and tendering processes simpler for small charities, and needs to recognise and value the role of these charities, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Civil Society and Volunteering heard yesterday.

The APPG, which is coordinated by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and co-chaired by Baroness Pitkeathley, a Labour peer, and Susan Elan Jones, Labour MP for Clwyd South, heard from two representatives of the small charity sector, and from one charity and a social enterprise.

Asked by Third Sector what he hoped to see in political parties’ general election manifestos, Simon Hebditch, chair of the Small Charities Coalition, said: “I’d like to see a real commitment to the importance of the sector as a whole.” He said that politicians that wanted to reshape public services would do well to recognise the role small charities could play in this. “Parties have got to see that it meets their needs and commitment as well,” he said.

Pitkeathley agreed, saying government should recognise that investing in the capability of small charities in the short term would save money in the long term.

Yvonne Farquharson, managing director of Breathe Arts Health Research, a non-charitable social enterprise that designs new approaches to healthcare using the arts, told the meeting that there should be “more recognition in terms of the different structures that can support the public sector”.

Pauline Broomhead, chief executive of the Foundation for Social Improvement, which supports and advocates for small charities, said government should “make sure that the small charities sector has a voice”. Broomhead presented figures from two FSI reports produced last year, including its Small Charity Index, which suggested charities were having to cope with rising demand and a decline in resources.

Nigel Scott-Dickeson, chief executive of the West Sussex-based children’s charity the Springboard Project, said government should “recognise the role of the small charities sector – we’ve a tremendous cohort of skills and ability”.

Scott-Dickeson said that tendering for local government work was becoming increasingly complex. “We don’t have contracts any more; we have something called frameworks, which makes it even more interesting,” he said. He said that some public bodies did not understand smaller-scale projects and “don’t know how to commission small charities – they don’t think you can get anything done with less than £10,000″.

He said bidding for contracts from different local authorities, which might have very different requirements, was frustraing. “We need some sort of conformity,” he said.

Farquharson said she had the same experience when working with NHS clinical commissioning groups – any two CCGs might require very different documentation and evidence. She said that demonstrating the impact of previous work with another CCG would only go so far.

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbots, a Conservative peer, said he had raised a proposal in a parliamentary debate the previous week that would help deal with this situation. Speaking in the committee debating the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill, he had cited the example of a charity that had to complete a 68-page document when tendering for a £10,000 contract to run after-school clubs, and said in his research he had been sent several hundred similar examples of excessive requirements.

“Tender documents should be proportionate to the value of the contract being awarded,” he had told the committee. “Too often, as in the example that I have given, very small contracts have very large tender documents attached to them.” He also suggested the removal of the pre-qualification questionnaire requirement for certain contracts, and changes to the way contracts were monitored.

Hodgson’s amendments to the bill were not taken up, although Baroness Neville-Rolfe, parliamentary under-secretary for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, had told the committee that the bill would deliver simpler procurement. She said: “Like my noble friend Lord Hodgson, we would like to see better, simpler documentation that makes contracts more accessible to small business and voluntary organisations.”


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Wrexham Council Defend Local Procurement Figures

January 19 in Daily News by eisc No Comments

Today Wrexham Council have responded to a critical interpretation of a Freedom of Information request answer on their local procurement figures.

The FOI detailed how 33.1% of the Council’s procurement was within the local authority area.

Today Wrexham Council have issued a lengthy but detailed response: “Wrexham County Borough Council fully supports the principle of increasing procurement expenditure with local suppliers and is actively engaging with the Welsh Government’s National Procurement Service as one means of achieving this.”

“Any contract which falls under EU legislation cannot be awarded to firms in Wrexham or Wales just on the basis of their location. All other contracts must be awarded in an open, fair and transparent manner and must represent value for money for the taxpayers of Wrexham County Borough. The Council uses a number of methods to encourage and enable local SMEs to tender for its business.”

“The Council’s procurement rules ensure compliance with UK and European legislation and open up the supply chain to all organisations interested in competing for our business. This supports the Welsh Government’s Procurement Policy statement which sets out the benefits that the local supply base can deliver. All contractual opportunities over the value of £25k are advertised on the Sell2Wales website and we encourage all suppliers to register on this site.”

“The Council’s Procurement Strategy, approved in December 2013, acknowledges that within the constraints of relevant legislation “the Council will encourage, support and develop local markets to maximise the local benefit of procurement opportunities”. The Council’s website provides more information on procurement in Wrexham CBC.”

“The Authority actively promotes open competition of opportunities, provide links for small businesses with Business Wales and holds “Meet The Buyer” events to encourage local supply chains. “Community Benefit” clauses are included in suitable, larger contracts which require the successful tenderer to deliver specified initiatives to benefit the local workforce, supply chain and communities. ”

“The quoted figures are based on payment postal addresses and so exclude large local employers who are based outside the County Borough or Wales but who employ a large local workforce. If these were included then the figures would be higher. In addition, there are other key areas of spend e.g. gas, electric etc. that have to be purchased from national companies and so there is no opportunity for local suppliers in these areas.”

“In moving forward, the Council continues to actively encourage main suppliers (who may be out of the area) to provide opportunities to local SME’s, has simplified its pre-qualification processes to make it easier for Companies to compete for business, looks for best overall value for money outcomes and recognises the qualities that local companies have to offer.

“We will continue to actively engage with local suppliers and other interested parties to do this. Any local SMEs who wish to contact our Procurement Team can do so at”

The stats released yesterday have created some debate, with one reader writing in to say: “Surely firms based in Farndon, Oswestry, Ellesmere, Whitchurch, Chester, Shrewsbury etc who employ staff who live in the Wrexham area should count as benefiting the local economy far more than those based in Cardiff, Swansea or Newport. What about firms whose headquarters are based elsewhere but who have staff working and living in the area?”


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If you want smarter government, you need smarter procurement – The Commentator

January 15 in Daily News by eisc No Comments

The approaching UK general election has already seen the two main political parties pledge commitments around deficit reduction, each promising to save billions. 

Chancellor George Osborne has already unveiled the government’s latest round of spending reductions in his recent Autumn Statement, proposing to reduce public spending by another £30bn if it remains in power after next May’s general election.

There has been much debate about how these targets can be met, with some arguing the need to protect front-line services whilst the necessary financial savings are made. So how can the next government reduce spending, without jeopardising vital public services? The answer lies in smarter procurement initiatives.

Recent research commissioned by Gatewit with the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) revealed that the average cost of a UK procurement competition in the in the public sector is £42,200 which is 90 per cent more expensive than the EU average of £23,900 making it the highest in the European Union. The research found that the UK’s public sector procurement process takes 53 days longer than the EU average, something that will undoubtedly contribute to the high cost of procurement to the government.

The current system needs urgent reform, and it is time that political parties recognised that smarter government can only be achieved with the necessary reforms to the procurement process. Expensive, long decision-making processes not only cost money, they can put smaller businesses with less resources at a disadvantage and jeopardise the public sector’s ability to work with more dynamic suppliers.

For its part, the EU has made it easier for UK ministers to outsource critical services healthcare, social care, education and prison services more quickly under the new “light-touch” regime. If the contracts in these sectors are less than 626,000, they will be excluded from EU laws because they are deemed not to be of cross-border interest.

The announcement has been welcomed by Francis Maude, Cabinet Office minister, who said, “This is big boost for all small and medium-sized enterprises and all bidders to make it cheaper and quicker with less red tape.” The proposals also mean that bidders for public sector contracts will not have to supply high volumes of documentation and paperwork, such as insurance details. 

But the Cabinet Office’s own data reveals that the average contract size in the UK is twice that of similar deals in France and Germany, a set-up working against smaller competitors. 

So whatever the outcome of the general election in May, the next government must go further with these reforms, using digital technologies to enable smaller providers through eProcurement initiatives. Doing so will empower Britain’s SME community and ensure that these innovative companies are able to make their contributions to transforming the public sector.

You cannot build a smarter, more efficient government without a smarter approach to procurement. By embracing eProcurement initiatives, the next government will be able to make significant savings, whilst transforming and enriching the procurement process. 

Building a smarter government is easy, but only when you have the right suppliers and providers to deliver it. 

Pedro Paul is Chief Executive of Gatewit a leading IT service provider which specialises in eProcurement Solutions, Source-to-pay solutions and Public eProcurement


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Local suppliers benefit from Gatwick procurement networking events | Supply Management

January 6 in Daily News by eisc No Comments

Gatwick Airport is boosting its local supply chain and relationships with a range of events for both current and potential suppliers.

Events organised by Gatwick Diamond Business – a network of local businesses with a powerful voice on local issues – have enabled the airport to boost the number of local suppliers it has relationships with.

In particular, a “speed-dating” type event for suppliers from a range of sectors, including the retail and financial, to meet buyers, called Networking at Ease, has recently enabled one successful bid from a supplier.

“We are keen to engage with local suppliers, because it’s quite an obvious thing to do,” said Ruth Slater, senior procurement manager at Gatwick Airport. “The process can be a lot quicker and less complex. [It’s also important] to be able to see suppliers in an informal setting.”

In addition, an annual supplier day – to which tier one suppliers with the highest invoiced spend over the previous twelve months are invited – boosts relationships.

The day involves presentations to about 70 suppliers from key stakeholders at the airport including the development director, head of health and safety and the chief information officer, for example, and a range of networking sessions.

“It gives us an opportunity to make sure that the key suppliers are getting the key messages from us, so they can then cascade these down to their suppliers,” Slater adds.

“We’ve got to learn about suppliers from across the whole business – it gives us a feel for the supplier, who at the airport their interact with and what direction they themselves are moving in. It opens up the relationships with the key stakeholders.”

This year, the invite was extended to about 20 of the airport’s tier two and tier three suppliers to further develop the commitment across Gatwick’s supply chain.

Slater added these events are a “really positive thing to do” for the procurement function’s reputation at the airport.


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