Leveraging the public procurement spend for the benefit of the economy as a whole has assumed increasing importance in these challenging economic times. Public procurement is discussed at policy level not only in terms of achieving cashable savings but also in terms of offering growth opportunities to small indigenous suppliers who have borne the brunt of the downturn in the domestic and international economy.
In NPS competitions, the tender documents explicitly seek to encourage the participation of SMEs. A prime example of this is when the NPS decided to divide the office supplies contract into three individual lots for Stationery, ICT Consumables and Paper. SMEs that believed the scope of the competitions were beyond their technical or business capacity were encouraged to explore the possibilities of forming relationships with other SMEs or with larger enterprises. Through such relationships they could participate and contribute to the successful implementation of any contracts that resulted from these competitions and therefore increase their social and economic benefits. Larger enterprises were also encouraged to consider the practical ways that SMEs could be included in their proposals to maximise the social and economic benefits of the contracts that result from these tenders.
Codex Ltd, an indigenous company, won the Stationery contract, with an estimated value of €10m per annum, and are sourcing up to 60% of their products using 136 local Irish agents and manufacturers.
Furthermore, the ICT Consumables contract, worth an estimated €8m per annum, was also won by another Irish SME, Datapac Limited. The NPS has also, as part of its education and development remit, an active programme to educate SMEs in how to participate effectively in the public service procurement process. To date the NPS has facilitated workshops and presented at seminars to over 3,500 SMEs nationwide.