The Department for Education (DfE) is rightly focused on delivering outstanding value from all of its commercial activity and that remains the ultimate test that all contractual arrangements must meet. The Department currently channels almost 30 per cent of its overall procurement spend through SMEs and it recognises that SMEs are often well placed to deliver specialist services at extremely competitive rates. The Department does not believe that securing value and increasing the use of SMEs are incompatible and will therefore, continue to build on its work with SMEs, with the clear objective of improving the value for money to taxpayers.
The Department’s commercial policy and best practice incorporates the actions announced by the Minister of the Cabinet Office on 11 February 2011.
From June 2011 the Department will publish a Periodic Indicative Notice (PIN) in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) to allow SMEs time to form consortia or partner with larger suppliers. We will continue with successful supplier open days for larger requirements, to encourage SMEs to form connections with larger suppliers, or create consortia.
The Department will continue to ensure that our processes deliver value and that SMEs are not excluded because our processes are unnecessarily bureaucratic. We will strive to ensure all procurement practices and methodologies are as SME friendly as possible. We will obtain and act on supplier feedback and redraft procurement and grant documents when appropriate. We will gather market intelligence and use it to provide an insight into the markets within which our grant recipients and suppliers operate.
We expect these measures to further enhance the Department’s good track record in working with SMEs by increasing the number of SME consortia competing for Departmental contracts. We will also be looking for evidence of positive feedback from SMEs about the availability of Departmental contract opportunities.
The Department’s Small and medium enterprise (SME) procurement action plan can be downloaded from the associated resources section on the right of this page.