The Welsh Government announced yesterday that it is looking to save £25 million annually of the current £4.2 billion public sector spend through “eliminating duplication, developing a sustainable procurement model, and increasing efficiency”.
To help achieve this, the Welsh Government’s National Procurement Service (NPS) will focus on helping small businesses win public sector contracts by reducing bureaucracy and minimising burdens.
Speaking to SM after the launch of the new service yesterday, NPS director Sue Moffatt said that the Welsh Government wants to minimise the burden on suppliers and public sector bodies, and reduce bureaucracy thorough NPS.
She said: “I want shorter procurement timescales with more upfront market engagement so that when we hit the market we’ve got the specifications agreed by the stakeholders, and we’ve got very clear timelines that we stick with to minimise the burden on both stakeholders and the suppliers.”
Moffatt explained that as part of one of the first procurement projects, NPS will work on a “resource efficiency framework” focused on small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and micro-businesses.
“We’re actually not going to do a pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ), we’re going to do the due diligence at the long-listing stage to minimise the bureaucracy because the community of suppliers is very small,” she said.
“It’s about doing things differently rather than getting hung up on the process. We can get the right quality, we can get suppliers that are effective that have strong financial backgrounds but sometimes it’s just the fact that the PQQ process just puts them off.
“If it’s an SME business of less than 10 people or sole traders, they’re just not used to engaging in the public sector world so it’s a really comprehensive framework that’s going to be launched early on.”
Moffatt also said that the team will work closely with Whitehall to ensure large government contracts do not come out at the same time.
“For suppliers, there’s nothing worse than getting multiple tenders out in a shot-gun approach and having to respond to them is a massive drain on resources,” she said.
The NPS will have seven categories – IT, corporate services and utilities, construction and FM, people services, professional services, fleet, and special projects. These will be implemented through category managers on 2 December and 13 January.
Moffatt added: “It’s not just about the category skills and the sector knowledge, it’s about stakeholder skills. I want the 70-plus organisations that have signed up to the NPS to feel like we’re working with them and supporting them.
“The easiest way to alienate our stakeholder community will be to start telling them what to do. It’s about working with them. They should be the ones, as the users, defining specifications and agreeing what we go to market for.”