In the biggest shake-up to procurement regulations in over a decade, the European Union is set to reform OJEU procedures and make it easier for SMEs to gain access to significant public sector projects.
The new amendments to the EU Public Procurement Directive will see procurement times shortened and the administrative requirements of the tender slashed, in a bid to simplify processes and cut costs.
Large frameworks will be encouraged to divide into smaller, more specialised lots and minimise the turnover limit to no more than double the estimated contract value, which will help to open up the market to smaller contractors.
The reforms should reduce resource expenditure for all parties during the procurement process, which in turn will help to create a level playing field for SMEs.
In our experience, the public sector will often want to work with smaller contractors but current procurement rules can be restrictive in who they are able to engage with.
In turn, these businesses may be automatically excluded from frameworks because of the immense scale and scope of work involved, despite having relevant experience and capability.
There is now real momentum behind change: last year the UK government relaunched its PAS91 pre-qualification question set, which Constructionline supported.
The standard helps to cut administration time for suppliers bidding on multiple tenders and has been welcomed by major construction buyers including Kier, Vinci and housing consortium Procurement 4 All.
The new regulations will not be implemented in the UK for a further two years, but work is under way to introduce some of the changes as early as autumn this year.
With workloads rising and barriers falling, there should be real optimism among the sector’s smaller firms.
Rebecca Sperti is director at Constructionline.comReb