If public procurement represents significant expenditure in France every year (87.5 billion euros in 2019), VSEs and SMEs are often under-represented. Although the threshold which dispenses with all formalism, i.e. without prior advertising or competitive bidding, has been raised (it has gone from 25,000 euros to 40,000 euros excluding tax from 1 January 2020), those they are still lagging behind in public markets compared to large groups. The reasons are various: time-consuming and sometimes complex administrative procedures, limited financial capacities, or even sometimes incomplete field of know-how.
SMEs, too little present in public procurement
It is customary for large companies to participate in public tenders. Thanks to their larger workforce, they can dedicate services to certain skills and train employees in public procurement. These companies therefore have more opportunities to win calls for tenders and therefore win public contracts.
Small and medium-sized enterprises, for their part, do not always have the technical, administrative and financial resources to apply for public consultations.
At the regional level, many communities and parliamentarians want to promote local businesses in public contracts. It is also envisaged to question the prohibition of the criterion of origin which derogates from the principle of equal access to markets.
Thus, this could allow SMEs to be more present on public markets, particularly in the purchases of local authorities.
Access new markets through outsourcing
Another solution can allow SMEs to participate in consultations despite an inability to provide the full service: subcontracting.
Indeed, by associating with another company within the framework of a consultation, companies can combine their skills and resources, and thus gain easier access to public procurement.
It is then a matter of completing the usual consultation file and adding the DC4 subcontracting declaration form to it to present the company that will assist the candidate.
Is subcontracting the only way for business cooperation in public procurement?
Outsourcing is not always the best solution for the collaboration of several companies. Co-contracting, also called Momentary Grouping of Companies (GME), is sometimes more suitable.
Unlike subcontracting in which one of the candidate companies and the other assists it, in co-contracting, companies can respond to the market with a common voice, without creating a legal entity. The companies are then at the same "rank" vis-à-vis the contracting authority.
What form of collaboration should be chosen for an SME?
There is no form more or less suited to an SME. Subcontracting and co-contracting each have specificities which can be advantages or disadvantages depending on the company, its situation or the market.