FPB turns up heat on government to improve public procurement process for small business

Public procurement contracts should be more easily available to small businesses, and the government needs to do more to make that happen, the Forum of Private Business (FPB) and the All Party Small Business Group (APPSBG) are arguing.

The government is scheduled to implement improvements to the procurement process in 2010, but the FPB is now pressing it to fast-track the changes, which are outlined in the Glover Review.

Published in November last year, the Glover Review called for greater transparency, simplicity, ‘strategic procurement’ and measurement to become central to the tendering process by 2010. Interestingly, though, it said requiring a minimum number of contracts to be awarded to small firms would be unnecessary.

In a report published this week, the APPSBG said the Glover Review’s suggestions should be pushed further.  The APPSBG’s recommendations include improving access to the information about public contracts, improving access to the tendering process and keeping it as easy and inexpensive as possible, creating support schemes, providing detailed feedback on unsuccessful bids and reducing the perception of risk association with using small firms to carry out contracts. It also suggested creating individual strategies for different types of business, rather than treating small businesses as one homogenous lump.

The new lobbying will be warmly welcomed by small businesses, who widely believe the procurement process is too long, bureaucratic and costly at the moment.

"We are hopefully at the beginning of the process of opening up more government contracts to smaller businesses, and it will take time before the review's initial recommendations bear fruit," said the FPB's policy representative Matt Goodman.

"However, with the Prime Minister committed to pushing forward public investment projects, we want the Government to act as quickly as possible to make sure that small businesses get their fair share of those contracts. 

“That would help to save more small firms from closure and to provide a catalyst for economic recovery. It is important that the Glover measures move in the right direction as quickly and as effectively as possible."

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