Public sector contracts range from small contracts for local products and services (under £30k) right up to multi-million pound projects which are advertised across the European Union (EU).
Northern Ireland government contracts under £30,000 in value
Public sector bodies in Northern Ireland often need to buy a product, service or works that is under £30,000 in value. The usual process is to seek quotations from a number of potential suppliers and compare the quotations to ensure the organisation gets ‘best value for money’.
Some organisations will use Constructionline, or eTendersNI to identify potential suppliers to contact for quotations, based on the categories suppliers have aligned themselves to. Other organisations, particularly local councils, may have ‘select lists’ of contractors they use on a regular basis. Contact your local council if you wish to be added to a list.
Alternatively, particularly if a low value product or service is required, the organisation may search online to find a supplier, or visit a local retailer. If you wish to do business with the public sector for low value contracts, be prepared to offer a competitive written quotation.
Northern Ireland government contracts over £30,000 in value
Public sector opportunities over £30,000 in value are advertised online, and suppliers are invited to submit tenders to compete for the contract.
In Northern Ireland, the Construction & Procurement Delivery (CPD) carries out procurements over £30,000 for government departments, agencies and arms-length bodies.
In addition six other Centres of Procurement Expertise focus on specific sectors of central government procurement: education, health supplies, housing, roads, transport and water.
Local government tenders
At local government level, each local council carries out procurements for their organisation. Find your local council in Northern Ireland.
Most of the councils use the eTendersNI portal to advertise their tenders and award contracts. Details of tender opportunities for councils not using eTendersNI can be found on their websites:
- Fermanagh and Omagh District Council
- Derry City and Strabane District Council
- Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council
- Newry Mourne and Down District Council
eTendersNI was launched in April 2015. Previously a number of different websites were used across the public sector for this purpose, the most popular of these being eSourcing NI.
With eTendersNI you can personalise your supplier profile to select categories of goods, services or works that your organisation is able to provide, and then receive an automatic email alert from eTendersNI when a relevant tender is published.
Procurement pipelines - Northern Ireland
Early visibility of government projects is helpful for suppliers interested in selling to government. Before opportunities are advertised on eTendersNI, public sector organisations are already making preparations to deliver large projects and services – sometimes months or years in advance.
To help suppliers prepare for major tenders, procurement pipeline information is available.
You can view procurement pipeline information for:
- CPD supplies and services
- Investment Strategy Northern Ireland construction projects
- BSO PaLS (health supplies and services)
- NI Education Authority
- NI Water
- Transport NI
Tenders advertised across the EU
Public sector tendering in every EU member state is subject to procurement directives, designed to ensure the free movement of goods, services and works.
Procurement thresholds have been agreed across EU member states – any NI public sector opportunities valued above these thresholds must be advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) in addition to eTendersNI.
This means that you could be competing against suppliers from other European countries for a Northern Ireland public sector tender – but typically more than two thirds of contracts are awarded to suppliers located in Northern Ireland.
Read more about public sector contracts in Europe.
Local and specialist press
In the past tenders were advertised in major local newspapers – this is less common now as most tenders are advertised online, but it is still worth keeping an eye on trade magazines and websites, as sometimes contractors working on large public sector contracts use these to advertise sub-contracting opportunities. Some councils advertise in local newspapers.