Tendering for Government Contracts
We look at where small businesses can find opportunities in the public sector and how to go after them...
Where are opportunities advertised?
Opportunities for contracting with the public sector may be advertised in a wide variety of places. Contracts below the EC limit (around £99,000) are often advertised in trade journals, increasingly on websites, and occasionally in national or regional newspapers. However, although encouraged to do so, some public-sector organisations do not advertise low-value contracts at all. You may benefit from identifying the appropriate individual in an organisation, through the contacts listed at the end of this guide, and giving them information about your business.
Supplying Government is a website provided by OGC and Business Link that gives advice to businesses on:
- selling products and services to the Government;
- contact points in government organisations;
- where to find advertised contract opportunities; and
- contact details and links to equivalent sites in Scotland,Wales and Northern Ireland.
Business Link provides access to a range of business advice and support for small firms in England. You can contact them by phone (0845 600 9006) or on the Business Link website, and will be put in touch with your nearest centre to discuss the help and advice offered on selling to the public sector. Some centres offer direct access to public-sector opportunities that are tailored to your business’s specific needs.
Government Departments and their agencies must follow the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) procedures for tenders with an estimated value of around £99,000 or more. However, if you are looking for contracts below this value, or your product or service is particularly original, it may be more appropriate for you to choose a department or a number of departments and contact them directly. You can find the initial contacts for Government Departments on the useful publications & information page. It is always worthwhile searching the internet as some departments have ‘selling to’ pages on their websites.
Two useful publications are ‘Government Opportunities’ and ‘Contrax Weekly’ which are published by the commercial company BiP Solutions. These are available monthly and weekly respectively.
Euro Info Centres
Euro Info Centres (EIC) have been set up throughout the UK by the European Commission to provide information and services for business. These include a full library service of OJEU and an Alerting Service for Tenders Electronic Daily (TED). Most centres have been set up in host organisations including, for example, business development agencies, such as Business Link, university libraries and regional Chambers of Commerce.