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central Government bans use of PQQs in sub-threshold tenders

23 February 2012

The Cabinet Office has issued guidance on the use of pre-qualification questionnaires (PQQs) by central government departments intended to improve access for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). SMEs are concerned that the administrative burdens of complying with public sector procurement requirements have a disproportionate impact on smaller businesses, which this guidance is intended to address.

The guidance states that PQQs must not be used as a pre-tender selection when the value of the goods, services or works falls below the EU procurement thresholds.

Whilst the removal of the PQQ stage will make life easier for SMEs wishing to submit tenders, it may give tenderers false hope if they are unlikely to be successful at the invitation to tender stage. It will also increase the workload of government departments by increasing the number of tenders they are required to assess.

Whilst this guidance only applies to central government departments it will be interesting to see whether local authorities wishing to improve SME access will follow suit.

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