More projects are set to be covered by an industry participation policy and greater weight is to be given to local businesses as part of a major overhaul of government procurements processes in South Australia.

The overhaul aims to make work on public sector projects more accessible to small businesses in construction, manufacturing and other industries.

Announcing the changes recently, State Minister for Manufacturing and Trade Tom Kenyon said the measures were about cutting red tape and making it easier for local businesses to win government contracts. He said the steps taken represented part of the government’s response to a review of tender process effectiveness by the Industry Participation Advocate.

“The policy has been designed to ensure we achieve the maximum economic benefit from the nearly $4 billion of contracts let by the State Government each year – and that local companies are given every opportunity to win these contracts,” he said.

“(The reforms are) about opening-up government tender processes, making them less complicated, streamlining procedures, cutting red tape and making it easier for our local businesses to compete on an equal footing.”

Under the changes, the number of projects covered by the state’s industry participation policy will be significantly increased, as will the weighting and importance of local business participation in decision making processes during the awarding of public sector work.

Meanwhile, at least one local quote will need to be sought on contracts of up to $220,000 in value while insurance compliance costs for small-businesses winning low-risk contracts up to $1 million in value will be reduced and a single pre-qualifying tender process across all government agencies will mean companies only need to provide information once.

The latest measures are part of efforts to increase local participation in public sector work, particularly on state-funded building and infrastructure projects.

Last month, Kenyon announced Business SA’s intention to create a special training package to help local business understand processes involved in tendering for government work and develop tenders which present their case and address required criteria more effectively.

The government has also commenced a series of ‘Meet the Buyer’ events during which company representatives are able to meet with government purchasing officers.

Kenyon says the latest measures follow consultation on the part of the Office of the Industry Advocate with more than 250 businesses, industry associations, unions and public agencies.

He says further consultation will occur through special advisory panels whilst an Industry Participation Taskforce involving senior government representatives will be established in order to support the reforms.

“We’ve listened to local businesses who’ve told us they want better access to government contracts and these reforms aim to address their concerns following the Advocate’s review,” he says.