Now and again we encounter an age-old dilemma facing PR firms in Ireland; namely, a weakly structured public procurement process.
Challenges presented by public procurement tend to include:
- Relevant experience, or experience of a similar nature. This barrier to participate deprives the state of sound strategic and creative input and also potentially great value, for Irish taxpayers
- Disclosure of detailed financial information over the previous three years, way ahead of any levels expected in private sector procurement
- Responding to briefs that have been prepared by people with little or no knowledge of public relations or strategic communications
- The tenders being quickly cobbled together as part of a box-ticking exercise and sometimes with a very poor response time allowed
Time and again the sector has had to respond to inadequate tender requests. The fact is that many tenders are geared towards bigger agencies. This is a lazy approach. It also costs the taxpayer.
The fact that an agency is not experienced at a particular type of project should not in any manner preclude it from tendering. The general strategic and tactical experience in agencies should be the benchmark for qualification.
Public relations firms are often awarded business by companies or sectors in which they have no previous experience. They are engaged for their strategic and tactical experience and expertise, that can be applied across the spectrum. Every good public relations firm inIrelandwill be able to provide numerous such examples.
The consequence of poor private sector tendering is that the Irish taxpayer is not getting the response it deserves in terms of both creativity and value for money.
We heard recently from a procurement specialist, that 75% of civil servants engaged in buying on behalf of the State are not trained in procurement.
This is a reforming government and maybe the area of public procurement is one that can be put in the centre of the mix. Irish taxpayers will be the ultimate winner in a properly constructed procurement system.
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