26 August 2008 | Jake Kanter
The methods public sector buyers use to advertise contracts are causing "confusion" among suppliers, a study has found.
According to a survey of 39 councils in the south-east of England by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), 66 per cent use e-procurement to promote business opportunities. This includes the use of national websites, including supply2.gov and CompeteFor, as well as regional and service-specific sites such as the Surrey Police Procurement Portal. This means vendors are unsure where best to find contract notices.
The FSB said this lack of consistency is deterring suppliers from monitoring certain websites and competing for work. One council told the survey: "There is too much duplication and confusion and the portals are not promoted to businesses sufficiently."
The study recommended purchasers monitor any negative effects of disjointed contract advertising and ensure they are engaging suppliers effectively. It also urged buyers to work on standardising pre-qualification questionnaires (PQQ) for low-value tenders.
Even though 64 per cent of councils have adopted simplified PQQs, compared with 29 per cent in 2006, the size of the questionnaire still often varies.