Thousands of SMEs missing out on lucrative Government tender work

In 2017/18, the Australian Government published 73,458 tender contracts with a combined value of $71.1 billion. Of the tenders, apart from military contracts, 15 per cent were for work involving management and business professional services with the rest falling into a range of other categories including education and training, building and construction and maintenance, healthcare and other services.

According to Darren Frearson, founder of the Australian Anti-Corruption Certification Register, the country’s first national register of businesses that have certified to be corruption free.

“A lot of businesses, especially small businesses, think they’re too small to apply for government work, but the reality is, they are not,” he said. “In addition to all the federal government work that is tendered out, every state and territory puts out tenders, as do local councils. I think more needs to be done to get small and medium-sized businesses involved in government tenders. We need a national campaign led by the federal government.”

Frearson added, “There are a lot of small businesses across Australia that either don’t know about all the government opportunities that are available or they think it’s too hard. Either way, we need a federal government led campaign to change this. The federal government has put in place some good initiatives to increase SME participation.”

Commonwealth Procurement Rules include a commitment to source at least 10 per cent value of all procurement from SMEs. In 2018, the federal government announced an additional commitment to source at least 35 per cent of contracts valued up to $20 million from SMEs. Currently, SMEs account for around 18% of the value of federal government contracts.

“My advice to small and medium-sized businesses is to get involved. You are a key part of our economy and should be involved in delivering services to governments at all levels,” Frearson said.

Here he outlines his key tips for SMEs to assist them in tendering for government work:

  • Contact your local council and nearby councils to make yourself known and register for tender alerts.
  • Contact state and federal tender organisations and register for tender alerts.
  • Prepare a professional informational document which explains who you are and what you do. Don’t assume the government knows about you.
  • Take the time to respond to tender opportunities and questions at length. Duplicate information where needed to ensure each question is completed fully.
  • Create a good list of trusted and reputable referees who can comment on all the required aspects of your business.
  • Ensure customer focus is at the forefront of your responses and add value with other initiatives and ideas to show that you are innovative and forward thinking.
  • Respond on time and in full.

“I created the Australian Anti-Corruption Certification Register (AACC) to give businesses the opportunity to verify their commitment to honest and ethical business practices. I believe by having the AACC logo on your communications and mentioned in your tender proposal, this shows you are genuinely committed to ethical business practices,” Frearson said.

“I know I would rather do business with an organisation that has certified to be corruption free, and I’m sure governments would too. When going through the tendering process, it is important to include as many added benefits as possible. Showing you are corruption free should be one of those benefits.”

The Australian Anti-Corruption Certification Register is a national organisation which promotes ethical conduct in business, informs Government and other key decision makers regarding issues affecting business and maintains a register of businesses that have warranted they are free from corruption.

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