Public Procurement Simplification

04/04/2011 The Government is determined to remove barriers that small suppliers face in public sector procurement and make it easier for them to do business with Government. The Government's Coalition Programme includes an aspiration that “25% of government contracts should be awarded to small and medium sized businesses” and at the Small Business Summit on 1st November 2010, a cross government package of measures were announced to help drive this commitment , improve transparency, and streamline the procurement process. Government recognises that smaller firms can provide flexible service, innovative solutions and value for money to the public sector, but that they also face greater challenges in the procurement process than larger businesses. BIS is working with the Efficiency and Reform Group, (ERG) in Cabinet Office (formerly OGC) in undertaking a number of measures to implement these commitments. For instance, as of 1st December 2010, it is now mandatory for central Government departments to use a core pre-qualification questionnaire for lower value contracts below the EU threshold.  This will benefit those applying for smaller contracts, especially SMEs. Work is also in progress to further drive improvement in the competence and professionalism of individual procurers.

Contracts Finder

 On 11th February 2011, the Government announced the launch of Contracts Finder - a free facility for small and medium-sized businesses to find online public sector procurement and sub-contracting opportunities above £10,000 in one single place. Contracts Finder will also be the place where all central government tender documents and contracts above £10,000 are held providing transparency for businesses to see what Government is buying and how goods and services are being bought.
  • Contracts Finder is now the place where all central government tender and contract documents are held. 
  • It will become the primary location for new public sector contract opportunities in addition to closed contract documents. All the information will be fully searchable and available to the public, free of charge.
  • Suppliers and members of the public using the site can choose to receive email alerts to advise them of new opportunities or contract and tender documents published.
Setting up email alerts on Contracts Finder
  • If you wish to receive email alerts, you will need to register for a Government Gateway account online at - it's free and only takes a couple of minutes. Before you start you should close all other open windows and tabs in your internet browser then follow the instructions here to register. You can then set up email alerts, follow the instruction here
  • If you currently carry out online activities, such as filing your VAT online, you are likely to already have a Government Gateway account, which will enable you to set up automatic email alerts. You need to set up email alerts based on saved searches you have created, follow the instruction here.

Registering as a buyer and advertising opportunities

 If you wish to advertise your public Sector contracting opportunities you can register as a buyer and post your opportunities directly onto Contracts Finder - follow the instructions here. currently offers consolidated access to lower-value opportunities (typically under £100,000) from across the UK public sector. It was launched in March 2006 to open up the market to all types of businesses, particularly SMEs, allowing them to search and view lower-value contract opportunities. The portal makes it easier for business and government to work together by bringing buyers and suppliers together in a single location. shuts down on Thursday 31st March but will continue to provide a full service to all its current subscribers (for customised services) until then. Businesses can continue to register for the free to search facility, however, in order to ensure a smooth close down of this service, new subscriptions and upgrades have been discontinued .

Public procurement training for businesses: Winning the Contract

 The on-line procurement course “Winning the Contract” is a free, nationally available resource. The course aims to support businesses (and in particular SMEs) by offering training and guidance on the public procurement process and how to bid for public sector contracts. This is one of the measures to help make public procurement more transparent and accessible to SMEs. The course is available at:   


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