Tendering for Government Contracts
We look at where small businesses can find opportunities in the public sector and how to go after them...
OGCbuying.solutions is an executive Agency of OGC and provides a professional procurement service to central government and the wider public sector. It does this by providing a range of products and services designed to encourage effective procurement and achieve measurable cost savings.
OGCbuying.solutions products and services are organised into 4 categories:
- Professional Services
All of the products and services have been through a competitive tender and fully meet EU Law.
Public sector organisations using OGCbuying.solutions’ contracts are therefore meeting their legal obligations towards public-sector purchasing and so do not need to carry out lengthy EU Procurement exercises themselves.
These contracts are re-competed – usually every four years.
The contracts do include a number of SMEs; for example, small firms currently account for over 23% of the prime contractors listed in the Professional Services category. Being included in a relevant category will increase your visibility within the public sector, as OGCbuying.solutions is widely recognised by central government, local authorities and the public sector in general.
If your products or services are related to construction, you should consider registering with Constructionline. The Department of Trade and Industry’s Constructionline is the UK’s register of local and national pre-qualified construction contractors and consultants. It is designed to save firms time and money from repeatedly supplying information to each prospective client (sometimes for every contract) about their general ability to carry out work. It does this by making this information available from one central on-line location and is used by over 1,500 public-sector organisations when they invite suppliers to tender.
Constructionline’s registration fees are on a sliding scale based on turnover or size, from £70 each year. Over half of all the 12,500 or more registered firms have an annual turnover of less than £1 million. There are special measures in place to help new start-up and small firms register, including help over the phone for filling in the registration form.
The advantages of being registered with Constructionline include:
- being on a level playing field with large companies if you meet the client’s standards;
- greater visibility within the public sector;
- reduced paperwork – one application form rather than having to pre-qualify for every contract; and
- greater access to a wider number of clients locally and nationally.
Construction firms working mainly for consumers on domestic repair, maintenance and improvement should join Quality Mark. It is the only government-backed national register of tradespeople working exclusively in that sector, and covers around 20 different trades. It also has the backing of local authorities, consumer groups and leading trade associations.
The Government wants consumers to use the register to distinguish quality firms from rogue traders. Local authorities and housing associations also increasingly favour Quality Mark-accredited firms. The Quality Mark warranty of work also allows local-authority housing departments to recommend Quality Marked-firms to people who receive improvement grants.
Membership of the scheme is currently free to all firms with domestic turnover of less than £1 million a year. There are many business benefits associated with membership, especially the choice of higher-value clients, fed directly to firms as consumers access the database of contractors through the national call centre and website. Many construction trade associations are now improving their membership requirements and process towards Quality Mark standards, increasing the availability of independently audited, reputable firms for consumers and giving members access to the scheme benefits.
The advantages of Quality Mark membership include:
- cheaper liability insurance premiums;
- access to free advice and training;
- business best-practice guides;and
- the support of an independent complaints system.