DFID Suppliers Conference: Congregation of the faithful

21 September 2016
Author: Haniya Dar

DFID’s fourth Annual Suppliers Conference brought together DFID staff from across the department with their suppliers. This year’s conference was eagerly anticipated, as more INGOs are applying for DFID commercial contracts and even more are investigating them as a possible funding option.

Can I get an Amen?

The first good news was DFID’s commitment to maintaining the 0.7% GNI promise. The Department also shared details of current and upcoming opportunities including the Economic Development Framework (formally Wealth Creation), WASH 2020, the Prosperity Fund, and the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF).

Overall, the key messages were not new – value for money (savings of £559,000 made by DFID over the last four years), impact, transparency and accountability. Other important themes were performance management, cross-government funds (currently 10% of ODA increasing to 30% by 2020) and new suppliers, particularly SMEs, to drive innovation.

However, those anticipating information on the long awaited Multilateral Aid Review, Bilateral Aid Review, Civil Society Partnership Review, and the revised County Operational Plans, were disappointed. If DFID staff were aware of publication dates, they were as tight-lipped as their civil service colleagues in MI6.

DFID is a broad church

More suppliers than ever were invited this year, from NGOs, research agencies and the usual suspects from the private sector. Perhaps most interesting of all, potential suppliers included private sector companies from the USA, known as Beltway Bandits, who attended; hungry to network and learn as much as possible.

DFID’s desire to open up the supplier base is an opportunity for INGOs. Those with DFID experience might do well negotiating with a new US private sector supplier looking to break into the DFID market as a consortium prime/lead. INGOs can offer the inside track on DFID due to the grants and tenders they hold and relationships they have cultivated. They can maintain control over methodologies, technical expertise and acquire a seat on the consortium board, while in exchange obtain favourable terms. A new private sector prime might offset some of the undesirable risks such as payment by results, or provide pre-financing and capacity building as well as take on the headache of meta-level consortium management.

In addition to the annual conference, there was a networking session for micro and small organisations and a half-day specifically for new suppliers. Bids from capable new suppliers, INGOs included, will be received with DFID’s blessing. They need the diversity of competition.

Homework from the conference was to follow DFID on Twitter @DFIDProcurement for the latest information. This message was so consistently repeated, one can only imagine there must be a log frame somewhere in Abercrombie House with a target of 200 twitter followers to be reached by the end of the month.

Conference presentations will be made available on https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-international-development/about/procurement.

Learn about bidding for service contracts at Bond’s Commercial contracting with DFID course, led by commercial contracting specialist Haniya Dar-Tobin or if you’re considering contracting come along to Bond’s half-day Working with commercial contracts seminar.

About the author

Haniya Dar-Tobin headshot
Hamilton Verney Consulting

Haniya Dar supports NGOs with the paradigm shift from grants to commercial contracts.