Australian small businesses: you can secure government contracts up to $200,000 thanks to New Australian Commonwealth Procurement Rules (CPR) introduced in December. The rules aim to make it easier for Australian SMEs to do business with government so that they don’t have to compete against the big end of town to get a share of the procurement spend.

So, if you’re a local company with less than 200 full-time employees, you can skip resource-and-time-intensive open tender process required to compete for a government contract. This means less red tape, a faster selection process, and cash for your business sooner – right?

Not quite. In an attempt to streamline procurement practices for Aussie small business, new shortcuts in the process may in fact make it even more difficult for some SMEs to benefit.

It All Depends on Who You Know…

New rules allow Government Agencies to engage SMEs and award contracts up to $200,000 through a limited tender under “Exemption 17”, as long as they demonstrate value for money.

Who gets the contracts? It’s likely to be those businesses on an Agency’s contact list, with a high-profile, or big marketing budgets who will receive a call to quote for work.

If you’re an Aussie SME, it’s time to raise your profile with Government. Here are some tips that will help you to get in front of Agencies and improve your chance of winning contracts under Exemption 17, when direct engagement, rather than an open tender is an option.

  1. Social Media. It’s a free and convenient way to raise your profile. In times of restrictions on travel and groups, consider your social media activity the same way as you would ‘traditional’ networking. Reach out to your local member and comment on their posts where appropriate. Use hashtags or tag your member in posts to draw attention to your message and company page.
  2. Knock on Doors. For the more traditional business owner out there, visit your local member. Introduce your business or find out what events or neighbourhood meetups your local representative is attending to raise awareness of your business. There are also directories that bring procurement teams and businesses together, such as Supply Nation, and the Industry Capability Network.
  3. Open Marketplaces: Apply in competitive rounds to join government marketplaces or panels like the Whole of Government Marketplace The Digital Transformation Agency’s Digital Marketplace, or LocalBuy. There are a range of panels, events and detailed procurement updates available for all manner of business, from  ICT suppliers to Legal and Travel Management Services.
  4. Look for Future Opportunities: As Governments increasingly commit to full and fair opportunity to compete for large and small enterprises, more data is available on what Government plans to buy, and who those purchasers are. One example is the portal which publishes the procurement activity plan from each of its Government organisations each year.
  5. Events & Join Government Business Networks. As we adjust to a “COVID-Normal” existence, more onsite events will return to the calendar. In the meantime, Agencies such as AusTrade and, in addition to state organisations host a rich schedule of virtual events that will provide information and promotional events for your small business.
  6. Submit an unsolicited proposal for goods and services. Here’s an example of how the Victorian Government recommends proposals are processed by its own Agencies.

With billions in Government contracts on the table each year, it’s certainly worth some time and effort to leverage the opportunities presented by new CPR Rules streamlined for local SMEs.

Read the related blog: Why procurement targets won’t fix the SME participation problem.