Business opportunities in selling to Government

Public procurement is the process by which public bodies buy from suppliers and covers a wide range of buying decisions, from large-scale infrastructure projects to small everyday items.

How can I grow my business by selling to Government?

Understanding public procurement and the guidelines associated with it is key to businesses of all sizes succeeding in a competitive market either at home or internationally through our membership of the European single market. The SME sector plays a fundamental role in contributing to economic growth and employment in Ireland. Public procurement offers significant opportunities to businesses of all sizes and the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) wants to encourage SMEs to avail of these both in Ireland and across the wider EU market.

The underlying principles are always the same; to ensure competitiveness, transparency, inclusivity, and that there be a delivery of value for money. In Ireland, procurement rules apply to how public money is spent and is closely monitored. The process opens up the market and ensures that opportunities for businesses are made available openly and regularly. The State spends approximately €8.5 billion every year on goods and services which represents a considerable business opportunity.

Innovation is important in all sectors of the economy and public procurement is a major instrument by which Government can encourage and stimulate innovation in the Irish economy.

The OGP recently published a Request for Tender (RFT) for the provision of “tools, hardware, and consumables” to the Irish Public Sector. Under this RFT, the tools, hardware and consumables covered a wide range of goods and supplies used for the maintenance of buildings, parks, depots, gardens, etc.

The RFT was published on eTenders (etenders.gov.ie). This RFT will cover most public service hardware requirements for the coming years, so if you missed out, it’s essential that you become familiar with eTenders ahead of the next competition!

What is eTenders and why you should register your business

eTenders is the Irish government’s eProcurement platform managed by the Office of Government Procurement. It is the central facility where you can register to find competitions and award notices advertised by public bodies for local projects, right through to high-value projects advertised across the whole of the EU.

Registering on eTenders (etenders.gov.ie) and setting up email alerts to match your type of business, will keep you in the know when the public sector are looking for goods or services that your business provides. Central Government, Local Authorities and all other public sector bodies will publish their request for tenders (RFTs) on eTenders, giving your company the opportunity to submit a bid and gain new business.

Registering for eTenders is straightforward and only takes a few minutes. The site contains Prior Information Notices (PINs), which give advanced notice that a procurement process is planned within the next twelve months and live opportunities in the form of requests for tenders (RFTs). You will find all the tender documents needed to submit a bid on the eTenders platform and using eTenders is completely free.

Alerts about new competitions are sent out on the basis of codes from the Common Procurement Vocabulary (CPV). Codes are allocated to all of the goods and services commonly procured across Europe and you can select to receive alerts on the basis of categories of goods (like “tools”) or more specific products (like “saws”). These codes can be found when you register for alerts on eTenders.

OGP YouTube channel and InterTrade Ireland Go2Tender programme

While the OGP works by aggregating public sector demand to maximise value for money, there are a number of measures in place to support SME engagement in public procurement competitions. The OGP also engages with industry representative bodies such as Hardware Association Ireland and through the SME Advisory Group. These groups provide feedback on how the OGP can engage better with businesses of all sizes.

A useful source of information is the series of animations created by the OGP on its YouTube channel. You can find the YouTube channel by following the link from the OGP’s website, ogp.gov.ie.

The videos available online explain the procurement process as well as how to register on eTenders and to create alerts. You can also find testimonials featuring successful Irish SME bidders.

Another great support available to your business is the successful Go2Tender programme delivered by our partners in InterTradeIreland. InterTradeIreland provides a range of development supports to businesses across the whole island of Ireland. The Go2Tender programme aims to give SMEs across the island of Ireland the confidence, skills and knowledge to successfully compete for public sector tenders in their own jurisdiction and on a cross-border basis. The programme consists of two days’ training by experienced bid specialists.

Participating in the Go2Tender programme would benefit your business in gaining a better understanding of the public procurement process and how to be successful and grow your sales. More information about upcoming workshops can be found at InterTradeIreland.com OGP provide procurement solutions, advice, guidance, and systems to organisations across the public service.

For more information please visit ogp.gov.ie or contact them via email at support@ogp.gov.ie