Too much red tape in e-government purchasing

28 Nov 2005

Despite some successful examples of the efficiencies derived from e-government in Ireland in terms efficient means to file taxes, Irish SMEs are still struggling with red tape and bureaucracy when it comes to selling to the Irish Government, it has been claimed.

In its latest E-Business Survey, which covered not only Chamber of Commerce of Ireland (CCI) members but a broad sway of SMEs across the country, CCI commended the Revenue Commissioner’s online service as a well as the Motor Tax and Companies Registration Office, which showcase the potential that exists for cutting down on red tape through the use of digital technology.

It says the ease and accessibility of these systems are now the benchmark by which all government departments should measure the success of their e-government projects.

However, despite the Government’s foray into e-purchasing with the launch of its eTenders website in recent years only 8pc of companies surveyed had submitted a tender to the Government’s eTenders website, although this rose to 20pc amongst companies with a turnover greater than €5m. Of those who had submitted a tender on the website 13pc of users found the site not to be user-friendly.

Anne Cleary of the Irish Computer Society and also the chairwoman of the CCI’s Digital Policy Council explained this disparity. “There is a feeling amongst those surveyed that the tendering website was very unfriendly and not user-friendly and there is a reluctance to tender online.”

Caoimhe Gavin, policy and research executive at CCI, added: “A lot of SMEs are frightened of the eTenders process. They fear that after applying there might not be something at the end. The smaller the company, it appears, the less relevant they think that eTenders will be.

“Many think that these tenders are for big construction and technology projects, however the prevailing reason for their reluctance is they think the site is too difficult to use.”

By John Kennedy