Government tenders: The industry responds

Earlier this week Marketing ran a number of features on the significance of government tenders in the local market and what needs to improve.

And while agencies often bemoan the process, the significance of these pitches keeps most of them coming back, with tenders often ranging from tens of thousands to millions in budget.

As a result, any lapse in procurement has huge implications for agency partners. While Marketing spoke to key industry players on what could be done better, emails have also been streaming in response. Some have requested anonymity.

Richard Bleasdale, managing partner at The Observatory, said a procurement model similar to the UK government might be effective.

Bleasdale refers to the model used for all government ad industry tenders above £100,000, which focuses on a bi-annual tender process for places on a government-approved roster of agencies.

The purpose of the roster is to ensure the UK government has used expertise to identify and partner with the best agencies in each specialist area.

It also consists of agreed fees for working on government projects – and standard performance levels, expectations and ways of working for both the agencies and these government bodies.

Government departments then select from this focused group of specialists knowing that their choice is the best in that discipline area.

“This should lead to much faster, more straightforward and much more focused selection processes, and ensure government departments/bodies are working with motivated and high quality partners.”

This also means only having to go through the whole process of investing to try and get on the roster once every two years, for agencies.

“If you do get on, then you should be assured of a reasonable return and the opportunities to prove your value.

“If you don’t, you can focus on other opportunities and not keep chasing your tail on month after month government pitches,” he said.

One agency professional who asked to remain anonymous said a lot of decision makers in government do not really the difference between vendors and agencies and treat them all the same way.

“The government has the funds and will not hesitate to invest in this and our fraternity must make ourselves heard. This is a good opportunity.

“Now that this subject has the attention of the Minister, we should ask them to set up training sessions and talks for concerned people and bring about an awakening.

Another, speaking on the basis of anonymity, added local tenders have been awarded to foreign agencies at a fraction of the market rate.

“In particular, a project on local Singapore history and culture project was awarded to an Indonesian agency for SG$30,000. The average bid of the other three shortlisted agencies was SG$68,000.

“My hope would be for government agencies to at least offer a nominal sum to cover running costs for shortlisted candidates.”

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