19 June 2009 | Jake Kanter
Small firms say they are being "disadvantaged" by the Scottish government's "arduous" tendering procedures, according to its supplier feedback service.
The complaint surfaced in the government's internal review of feedback received by the Single Point of Enquiry (SPoE).
The SPoE was launched in January last year as an informal online channel where vendors can discuss public purchasing and raise concerns in confidence.
Several small vendors argued that the complex paperwork demanded by tender procedures gave larger firms an advantage.
Other grievances included perceived breaches of EU procurement rules and questions about the integrity of award criteria.
SPoE manager Iain Murphy said "a number" of procurement procedures had been suspended and re-tendered as a result of vendor feedback. The service was helping public sector purchasers in Scotland improve supplier relationships, he added.
The difficulties of SMEs were raised in April by Scotland's finance secretary John Swinney. He urged buyers to make tenders more accessible to SMEs by posting them on the free Public Contracts Scotland site and using outcome-based agreements.