Government Tenders - Paradise for the big guys

Government Tenders - Paradise for the big guys

Postby Paul cuddy » Sun Sep 11, 2011 7:31 pm

It really frustrates me, the utter backward thinking nonsense of the powers that run this country. I recently got asked to participate in a government tender as structural engineer for a Galway co co project.
I could add huge value to this project in terms of my design capabilities and my competitive edge. My fees would be a fraction of the larger consultancies as Galway Co Co would only have to pay for what’s in between my ears and not my 5 secretaries, several technicians, Mercedes, fancy offices and satellite offices and all ancillary costs. But do you think I can tender, no I am eliminated as I do not turn over 250k each year. What a ridiculous rule, it basically says that only those with large fees need apply as the tax payer can afford it.
It is not a rule that is based on competence as this is a fairly average project that any half capable practitioner could execute. It is quite simply a rule that only allows the big fish to apply and rip off the taxpayer and especially those paying rates.
It drives me nuts that these idiots can do this, get paid for it and there is basically nothing I can do but knock on disinterested doors.
What a wonderful utopia it would be if the democratic and overwhelming strength of the small guy could join forces and end this nonsense and give us all some work in our local communities.
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Re: Government Tenders - Paradise for the big guys

Postby parka » Mon Sep 12, 2011 5:04 pm

Gave up on tenders many years ago.

Unless you can tick all the boxes, you haven't got a hope (and even if you can tick all the boxes, the turnover will take out all the small practices in an instant, especially in todays market)
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Re: Government Tenders - Paradise for the big guys

Postby Paul cuddy » Mon Sep 12, 2011 7:13 pm

I know that is what I cannot understand. I mean what is wrong with us, how do we sit back and let this happen. I know I am one to talk as I will complain a lot but as yet have failed to do anything too significant but I thought with the huge volume of people that these stupid bureaucratic rules would adversely affect, somebody would have challenged and eliminated them by now.
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Re: Government Tenders - Paradise for the big guys

Postby teak » Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:13 pm

I agree with you that, where the scope of the work is clearly not commensurate with the usual skills range of a €250,000 practice, that this stipulation is both absurd and wasteful.

Was wondering about this idea.

The threshold turnover for an entity wishing to tender is €250,000.
Suppose your turnover at present as a small practice is ~ half of this figure.
Maybe you could - for the purposes of such tenders - explore the idea of forming a virtual company with 1 or more other (complementary rather than competing, I suppose) professional engineers.
The new virtual company could then bid against the big firms on the basis of service & price alone.

The structure and nature of this virtual company would naturally have to be worked out to the agreement of all partner practices contributing to it.
Disagreement is the usual problem with this sort of entity in the aerospace/engineering tender world. The individual small firms are often led by people who have usually never worked for anyone other than themselves and you get the predictable issues of differing attitudes to assured capability, delivery dates, quality, suspicion and selfishness.
So partner compatibility is important.

Is this the same as just merging practices ?
No.
The virtual company partnership would be limited to such public tender work as would require combining turnover.
In all other respects the partner would carry on working as small practices in the individual areas of their expertise.

I suppose that you will need to suss out if such a proposal would be acceptable by the local authorities and other tendering bodies. Then you need to discuss the legal & operating structure of the new entity with some accountant.
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Re: Government Tenders - Paradise for the big guys

Postby Paul cuddy » Mon Sep 26, 2011 6:49 pm

I thought of this idea before and pitched it to a few people, they all came back with a negative response, saying that it would be too volatile and the assessors would not give it a fair consideration. I think the best idea would be to do away with the restrictions and bring the small guy into the tendering arena. Alot of these jobs are perfect for a private pratitioner. You would need a strong pitch presented to government backed up by most of the people on this forum and alot of others. It is achievable but it would meet alot of resistance from Ove and Foster.
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Re: Government Tenders - Paradise for the big guys

Postby teak » Tue Sep 27, 2011 10:36 am

Have you (and your prospective partners) actually gone and discussed the idea with your local authority ?

As for changing the law, surely that's where the IEI and IStruct E have to come in.
If they don't want it, any 'popular movement' is doomed.
The notion of using an architecture forum to change tender procedure is daft.
Firstly it's a bigger question than for purely architectural tenders.
Secondly, I really would not be so confident that those Irish architect firms that have reached a size that
enables them to enter the tender process would be willing to lose their advantage without a dirty fight.
This means that the big firms will be using all their business and social contacts to shore up their position
and undermine that of the liberalisers. The main mass of architects have no stomach for this kind of scrap.
They can't even sort out some of their own crapheads in the RIAI.

Changing this public tender process - even in a limited way, e.g. for small budget jobs - seems more like a case for the EU competition authorities.
Also expect more insurance cover to be demanded by authorities on tendering firms to cover the greater consequential losses that may result from public works projects.
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Re: Government Tenders - Paradise for the big guys

Postby Paul cuddy » Sun Oct 02, 2011 2:54 pm

The critical component of this forum is people and numbers, it would not matter if it was plumbers or project managers as long as you are in the business of tendering for government work, a change for one body is a change for all.
Of course the big boys would like to keep their monopolies, but people can change that.
Screw the IEI, ISTRUCTE and RIAI, they have zero power or influence, they will do whatever represents themselves and their buddies in the best light.
If the change is truly beneficial to the vast majority, then the vast majority can insist on it, through petitions, lobbying, marching etc etc. Now I know this seems a little over the top but if people really want it then they can have it. Desperate times call for desperate measures. If you want something in this country, the last thing you should do is apply through the orthodox channels as they have not been structured for honest folk. I am not a cute huar (if that is how it’s spelled) I am a genuine practitioner trying to sell my services for an honest buck, there are thousands like me.
It’s starting to smell like a revolution….. :shifty:
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Re: Government Tenders - Paradise for the big guys

Postby wearnicehats » Sun Oct 02, 2011 8:46 pm

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Re: Government Tenders - Paradise for the big guys

Postby teak » Tue Oct 04, 2011 3:00 pm

From what I understand in the regulations the state procurement process will allow 'virtual company' tenders.
But the local authorities are under no legal obligation to accept them : they may or they may not according to their own discretion and on their own advantage.
Knowing how council budgets are at times far smaller than the cost of urgent works that must be done, it is clear that certain cute tenderers will bid close or below actual cost on such jobs in the tacit expectation of their getting later opportunities when the (grateful) council's works budget is fuller. That's the way of the world.
I can't see local councils giving up this practice as it affords them a sort of financial flexibility despite their strict annual budget and borrowing limits.

I still think that your best strategy is to use the 'virtual company' structure to gain you entrance to local authority tenders.
Because this is something that you can do with limited co-operation from 1 or 2 other guys and without any draining politicking on your part.
And since the income gained by the VC in respect of expertise provided by your firm will eventually accrue to your firm, it also holds out the possibility for you to cut loose on your own from the VC when your revenue is high enough.
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