Guidelines for working with SMEs

We need to provide small to medium enterprises (SMEs) with fair and equitable access to the Queensland Government market.

SMEs are any business employing fewer than 200 people.

To provide more opportunities for Queensland SMEs, the ICT SME participation scheme policy has been updated to support the following initiatives:

  • the Queensland Government’s Buy Queensland approach makes Queensland jobs the first priority and is increasing opportunities for Queensland SMEs to supply to the government.
  • from 1 July 2020, all agencies subject to the Queensland Procurement Policy (QPP) must contribute to a collective 25% target of government procurement spend by value from Queensland SMEs. The target will increase to 30% by 30 June 2022.
  • the Queensland Government can directly engage Queensland SMEs using the SME and Indigenous Access incentive to provide solutions worth up to $500,000 (including GST) that demonstrate value for Queensland in addressing government priorities.

All agencies must apply the policy when procuring ICT products and services. Compliance is required under the Procurement and disposal of ICT products and services (IS13) policy.

How do I apply the SME Participation Scheme policy?

The ICT SME Participation Scheme standard can help you apply the policy.

Your requirements depend on whether you approach the market informally by obtaining quotes or formally through a full tender process and Invitation to Offer (ITO).

Your approach to market will depend on your agency’s procurement policies and procedures. Financial thresholds vary across departments.

I am approaching the market informally

When obtaining 2-3 quotations

You must demonstrate that you have undertaken a market assessment to identify appropriate SMEs by obtaining offers from at least one Queensland SME for new procurement opportunities up to a value of $250,000 (incl.GST) where practical.

I am approaching the market formally

All formal tenders must include the relevant questions confirming Queensland supplier SME status in their response schedules. 

During offer evaluation, you must allocate a minimum of 10% of the 100% total evaluation criteria for the purpose of weighting Queensland SMEs vs non-Queensland SMEs and non-SMEs.

If the offeror is a Queensland SME they receive the full 10% allocated.

If they are a non-Queensland SME they receive 0%.If they are not an SME they receive 0%.

If the offeror is a prime contractor engaging Queensland SME sub-contractors to deliver the work, they can receive a portion of the 10% weighting depending on their level of SME participation.

The weighting they receive is calculated on the net proportion of the contract which is to be paid to SMEs.

The SME participation scheme calculation can help you determine the weighting.  

You must publish information about all awarded contracts over $10,000 on the Queensland Government Open Data Portal. You will need to include the SME participation level and some information about the SMEs involved.

How do I engage SMEs using the SME and Indigenous Access incentive?

You can directly engage Queensland SMEs and Indigenous suppliers to provide solutions worth up to $500,000 (including GST) that demonstrate value for Queensland in addressing government priorities.

This incentive allows you to save time by approaching just one Queensland SME or Indigenous supplier who meets this criterion.

The ICT SME Participation Scheme standard explains how to apply the SME and Indigenous Access incentive.

I am buying from an existing ICT panel or standing offer arrangement

Your requirements depend on the type of arrangement you are buying from and whether it has been market tested.

If you are buying from a volume discount arrangement such as Sophos software products or Trend Micro software products, you must apply the policy as the arrangement has not been market tested.

If you are buying from a supplier list arrangement such as the ICT Services Panel, you must apply the policy as the arrangement has not been fully market tested.

If you are buying from a specific arrangement, you do not need to apply the SME policy as it was already applied during the panel establishment process. However, where an SME belongs to a panel they should be considered when requesting quotations and SME weightings should be applied to evaluations e.g. Information Technology as-a-Service (ICTSS.1804).

When new panels are established they are subject to the ICT SME participation scheme.


Exemptions to the ICT SME Participation Scheme apply where you:

  • demonstrate that offers cannot be obtained from SMEs that are competitive on price, quality or delivery
  • are using a sole supplier, limited supplier or existing panel arrangement (including standing offer arrangement) that has been fully market tested
  • are using an employment or labour hire firm—these firms do not qualify for SME participation advantages.

Compliance requirements for prime contractors

Prime contractors can be audited. Unexplained changes to the contracted SME commitment can be subject to a payment withholding process.

Contract managers must ensure that contracted SME payments have occurred by:

  • accepting the prime contractor assertion of payment
  • requesting proof of payment
  • auditing the prime contractor’s financial records.

You should also report non-compliance by emailing


For more information