A change to the government’s procurement rules is putting firms off tendering for public sector work because they do not have enough time to bid

Last month, the Office of Government Commerce announced it would follow an EU directive and relax restrictions on timetables for procuring work for two years.

Under the new system contracting bodies can shorten the time limit for pre-qualification entries for work from 37 to 10 days and for tender submissions from 40 to 10 days.

This could cut the whole process of procurement through the Official Journal by almost two-thirds, from 87 to 30 days, including a 10-day review period.

The changes are designed to boost activity by bringing projects on line more quickly, but some firms say the timescales are not feasible.

Graham Stow, director at consultant Stow Associates, said his firm had decided against bidding for two schemes in the past fortnight alone because of the stringent timetable.

He said: “If you only have 10 days to assemble teams, and obtain, complete and submit questionnaires, by God you have to respond quickly.”

Charles McSweeney, Cyril Sweett procurement director, said: “If it’s a choice between a bid where you have 10 days and one where you have longer, you’ll choose the one you have most chance of getting.”