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Ireland awards twelve times more contracts to foreign suppliers

In my Invent-DCU days, so it as least 5-7 years ago, I was at a session where VC and angels were talking to a panel of politicians and they were bitterly complaining about, you guessed it, the tendering policy of the Irish government and its agencies. It was near impossible for Irish start-up companies to get their reference clients in Ireland. It appears nothing has changed.

Bryan Cordon of Deycom Computer Systems posted this statistic: “EU Statistics prove that Ireland awards twelve times more contracts to foreign suppliers then the European average”

Discriminate towards home business

Ask any irish CEO about exports and you will find that many if not most will have had to go abroad to find their first customers. You’ll find that they’re competing with French, German, American, British, Israeli companies that have a bed rock of business in their own counties because their own countries will positively discriminate towards the home business.

France is famous for this; it pays lip service to the EU procurement rules. How many times have we talked to Irish CEOs who are bidding on business in other countries where the competitive bid is REFERENCING Irish customers….they’re all usually semi state!!! Its easier for a German company to sell to the Irish State than it is an Irish company…. this has been known for years!!!

It can’t be rocket science; below is what David Cameron announced in February, very quickly after they came into power. If you don’t want to read the whole text, the statement of intent of the UK government is for 25% of all government business to go to SMEs.

I don’t know, but if, as a government, you are looking for low hanging fruit; there it is. All that is needed is a similar statement of intent. If that is not possible as a STATEMENT OF INTENT, I would love to hear from government why we can’t aim for such a policy. We lost out on the quickly bit, lets hope we are not loosing out on the intent bit.

Here is the full statement by David Cameron:
“When we came into government, we inherited a system of doing business that was wasteful, inefficient and inflexible. In his review last year, Sir Philip Green uncovered some shocking examples: departments paying anything between £8 and £73 for a box of paper, for example. One problem was secrecy – contracts being signed behind closed doors, with no opportunity for public scrutiny. Another was the lack of competition, with small and medium-sized businesses, charities and social enterprises being actively discouraged by the system from competing for government contracts.

We launched a feedback portal on the Number 10 website for businesses like you to tell us what was going wrong and how we should fix it. Many of you have responded. We have heard about organisations being told they could only compete for government contracts if they had sold to government before; companies with new ideas but no mechanism to present them to us; and complaints about the complexity and lengthiness of our processes. As a result, despite accounting for 50 per cent of the turnover of the UK business economy, we estimate that SMEs only win a small proportion of the billions of pounds of public sector business.

This is unacceptable, so today we are announcing a package of measures to make doing business with government more transparent, and more welcoming to smaller companies, charities and social enterprises. Last month, we started to publish every central government contract worth over £25,000 in full, opening them up to scrutiny by potential competitors and the general public. In order to help companies find this business, we are today launching an online tool, Contracts Finder, which will display every central government tender opportunity, with an email alert facility to let you know when new ones in your area of business come up.

To reduce the time and bureaucracy in competing for a government contract, we will seek to eliminate the prequalification process for lower-value procurements, and are introducing a straightforward questionnaire for the rest that you will only need to complete once for common goods and services, rather than resubmitting the same data every time. We are also announcing a series of surgeries where companies with innovative products and services will be able to come and pitch to government – rather than waiting for the right tender to be issued.

Our ambition is that 25 per cent of government business should go to SMEs, and that many more contracts should be won by charities and social enterprises. In order to achieve this, we need your help. You can see the Number 10 portal here – if you have experience of doing business with government, continue to give us your feedback, including what you think about the announcements we are making today; and please log on to Contracts Finder, and use it to start bidding for government contracts.

There are opportunities here for all of us. By opening up government business to you, you can help us to make government less wasteful, to promote enterprise, and to modernise our public services by encouraging competition and innovation. If you think you can provide a great service to government, or you know a friend, family member, business or charity that could, then get online, get involved, be creative, be innovative and start searching for contracts now.”

For more from Ron, head on over to his blog

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