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Contractors World UK & Ireland
2012 Vol 2 No 3   
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Construction News - Economics - Business - Regulations

Gary Robinson, Scottish Government, Gavin Bruce, Luddon Construction Ltd and member of sPQQ working group and Alan Watt, CECA

Gary Robinson, Scottish Government, Gavin Bruce, Luddon Construction Ltd and member of sPQQ working group and Alan Watt, CECA

Procurement changes to address business concerns in Scotland

Steps taken by the Scottish Government to make doing business with the public sector easier were put to the test by some of Scotland’s most active campaigners urging for simpler tendering procedures.

Representatives of Public Contracts Scotland (PCS) – the Scottish Government’s flagship procurement portal – recently met with members of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association Scotland (CECA) at a one-day workshop to road test proposed changes to contract pre-qualification.

Work carried out by the Scottish Government, following an extensive consultation process with businesses, particularly SMEs, across Scotland, will see a more standardised process for contract pre-qualification introduced within PCS. The move responds to a recent survey showing 89 per cent of businesses would prefer a less time consuming pre-qualification process.

The tender module which will be contained within PCS enables public sector buyers and suppliers to transmit and receive information using a standard set of questions. Later in the year the system will be enhanced to introduce a supplier database for suppliers, allowing them to store their data electronically, vastly reducing the administration burden for suppliers when responding to pre-qualification questionnaires. The overall process when fully introduced will provide a more proportionate and simplified pre-qualification process for suppliers bidding for contracts with the Scottish public sector.

Civil engineering contractors welcome change

CECA, which represents around 100 civil engineering contractors who carry out over 80 per cent of Scotland’s civil engineering outturn, welcomed the opportunity to be the first business sector to give user feedback on the proposed changes. The body has not only led a proactive campaign on behalf of Construction Scotland to improve contract pre-qualification but has also worked with the Scottish Government to standardise the approach.

The civil engineering sector is worth nearly two billion pounds a year to Scotland’s economy with 80 per cent of this coming from public sector contracts. Taking part in the workshop were around 60 CECA members representing SMEs and multinationals from across Scotland.

Alan Watt, CECA Chief Executive, said: “There has been huge interest across the sector to address the resource and cost intensive burden of the current pre-qualification processes on both contractors and Scottish public sector clients. We have actively lobbied the Scottish Government for many years for changes which will see a more straight forward and efficient process.

“We are delighted to see the progress made, and although we have a lot of work ahead of us before this is rolled out across all local authorities, health boards, universities and other public bodies across Scotland, it is a shining example of what can be achieved with business working in partnership with the Government to improve how the public and private sectors can work better together.”

Also attending the workshop, Iain Robertson, Chair of Construction Scotland’s Procurement Group, said: “The workshop has given us a chance to see firsthand the proposed changes to the pre-qualification process, it’s encouraging to see so many of concerns commonly held across the construction sector addressed – sPQQ will undoubtedly be welcomed by businesses once it is rolled out.

“Public Contracts Scotland provides a fantastic resource to business across Scotland looking to work with the public sector, this latest development to the portal will deliver significant cost benefits to suppliers.”

Presenting at the sPQQ workshop, Gary Robinson, from the Scottish Government, said: “PCS Tender will also increase the efficiency of public sector buying organisations, improving quicker contract evaluations and awards with vastly improved communication to suppliers.”

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