Australia Proves Innovative in Attracting Small Businesses to Government Contracting

This post, written by David Wyld, originally appeared on Public Spend Forum

In looking at ideas on how to improve government contracting, it may come as a surprise to many inside the Beltway and in state capitol buildings across America that sometimes, there are great ideas that come from abroad. This bit of “good oil” (useful information) comes from just about as far away as one can get from Washington, DC—more than 10,000 miles to be exact—but it may be just the ticket for helping small businesses participate in, and win, more government business. And as countless studies have shown—both in the U.S. and globally—winning government contracts can be the key for many entrepreneurs to build real, lasting businesses and jobs in their local communities.

Australia is literally an island unto itself. And one would think, on the surface, that this would give Australia-based firms an inherent advantage in competing for government business. However, the Australian government is concerned about the competitiveness of its home country firms, both large and small, and their ability to compete against large multinationals. The national government’s newly created Department of Industry recently stated:

Australian firms still face challenges in gaining access to global supply markets and major investment projects. The relatively small size of the Australian economy, coupled with its geographical distance from the major markets of Europe and North America, and the trend towards greater use of established supply chains by international investors, can create significant impediments to Australian industry participation in major projects.

In response, the Department of Industry has put in place the Australian Industry Participation (AIP) program to encourage organizations in both the private and public sector to have greater participation in contracting opportunities.

The first example of the AIP’s workings in the governmental realm has come from the State of South Australia. According to a recent article in Supply Management Daily, in response to the AIP, the state government in Adelaide has enacted new contracting regulations to aid Australian small businesses’ participation in the approximately AUD$4 billion ($3.87 billion U.S.) in annual state contracting.

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