CESA has expressed “serious concerns” about new Government Procurement Service tender arrangements in a letter sent to Whitehall.
Rt. Hon. Lord Trefgarne, who serves as the Patron of CESA, wrote directly to Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, at the end of last month to outline what the association perceives to be major flaws in the tendering process.
“Many members who have successfully tendered for and supplied equipment in the past are concerned that the current tender process will not achieve the requirement to source appropriate equipment nor achieve the best value for money for the tax-payer,” noted Trefgarne.
Although the deadline for completing the tender process was recently extended, manufacturers have complained about the complexity of the procedure and the workload involved. Trefgarne said some CESA members had involved up to 10 members of staff in the process, which potentially discourages SME involvement.
The letter also pointed out that the commercial equipment specifications outlined in relation to commercial catering equipment were not relevant to the requirements of some operator sectors.
For many products, the only specification given is the MoD Spec. 42. This calls for a very high specification and carries with it a premium cost, which would simply not be relevant to a nursing home, school or social services application.
CESA also believes ISO 14000 and ISO9001 accreditations require further explanation, but should be recognised as adequate demonstrations of a company’s performance in their own right.
The arrangement of the tender process into single ‘Lots’ could also create issues for manufacturers of specific lines of equipment as it means the tender may be seen to be more open to dealers, according to CESA. This would also require manufacturers to enter into discussions to source equipment they do not produce in order to be able to complete the tender.
“Both the above points will require payment of a margin over and above the direct costs from the original equipment manufacturer,” wrote Tregarne. “This will mean that government has to fund an additional and unnecessary margin on the purchase cost. This cannot be sensible.”
Trefgarne ended the letter by stating that CESA was willing to assist in the development of the tender process to improve its relevance to the industry and encourage greater participation from manufacturers.
A spokesperson for CESA told Catering Insight that the association was currently awaiting a response from the minister.