The Action Plan for Jobs includes a number of measures to support SMEs to access public procurement opportunities. These measures are being delivered by various bodies, including Enterprise Ireland, InterTradeIreland, the newly-formed Office of Government Procurement (OGP) and my own Department. Enterprise Ireland and the OPG work on an on-going basis to encourage SMEs to register on the Government’s eTenders website, to enable forthcoming procurement opportunities to be brought to their attention.
The OGP, in collaboration with InterTrade Ireland, hosted a number of “Meet the Buyer” events in 2013. These events provide SMEs with an overview of the all-island public procurement market and the opportunities that are available. They also facilitate businesses networking, and opportunities for companies to form joint ventures and identify sub-contracting opportunities. The OGP will continue to hold such events in 2014.
Enterprise Ireland participated in the “Meet the Buyer” events in 2013 and also ran two collaborative projects with the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA), focussing on the Schools Bundles projects. The two agencies hosted a further “Meet the Buyer” event for the construction sector on 31st January in Portlaoise, highlighting supply chain opportunities for SMEs and microbusinesses in the Schools Public Private Partnership programme.
The OGP has established a High Level Group on SME Access to Public Procurement which is chaired by the Chief Procurement Officer. The group includes officials from my Department, Enterprise Ireland and Intertrade Ireland. The focus of this High Level Group is to develop strategies to improve SMEs’ access to public procurement opportunities and to monitor the delivery of the public procurement actions under the Action Plan for Jobs.
I am currently finalising the 2014 Action Plan for Jobs on behalf of the Government and I anticipate that it will include a number of further measures to support SMEs in accessing public procurement opportunities.