27 January 2021
Last month, the Government published its long-awaited Green Paper on proposed reform to the UK public procurement regime – ‘Transforming public procurement’.
These procurement reforms follow the end of the Brexit transition period in which EU procurement policies no longer apply.
Up to 23:00 on 31 December 2020, the UK’s public procurement regime was based solely upon EU directives. Following the expiry of the transitional period under the withdrawal agreement, the Government has signalled its desire to reform the procurement process.
The new approach aims to meet the less prescriptive rules set out in the international Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA), which forms part of the UK’s membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO) which commenced, independently of the EU, on 1 January 2021.
The Government’s ambitious plan is to streamline and simplify the complex framework of regulations and processes around public procurement to reduce costs for businesses and the public sector all whilst improving commercial outcomes, and creating more opportunities for small businesses, social enterprises and charities.
The green paper is a comprehensive 82-page document which covers many different areas of public procurement but some of the key proposals include:
- replacing the existing suite of different regulations for the public sector, utilities, concessions and defence contracts with a single set of procurement rules for all public contracts
- an ability for contracting authorities to include economic, social and environmental criteria that do not relate directly to the subject matter of the contract. This forms part of the Government’s plan to send a clear message that buyers do not need to select the lowest priced bid and should consider value for money more broadly, this includes increasing the scope to take account of social, economic and environmental criteria (Social Value) in selecting suppliers and awarding contracts
- making procurement more transparent by requiring the publication of procurement and contract data via the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS)
- a new type of Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) that can be used for any type of procurement. Inenco has been using DPS’s for some time now and have found that these help to speed up the procurement process.
- replacing the existing seven procurement procedures with three more simple ones.
- a competitive, flexible procedure that gives buyers the freedom to negotiate
- an open procedure for off-the-shelf purchases
- a limited procedure for urgent or emergency purchases
- simplifying the process via a single digital platform that allows suppliers to enter their details once and then bid for any public sector procurement opportunity (a sort of combination of the Official Journal of the European Union and the European Single Procurement Document
- automatic exclusion of bidders who do not reveal their ultimate beneficial owner(s) or whose beneficial owner would themselves be excluded, for example for previous criminal conduct
All of these measures should help to bring more transparency to the procurement process, as well as streamlining the steps taken which should help to reduce administrative burden. It should also allow for longer-term partnerships to be created; which is incredibly important when considering sustainability strategies than run for decades rather than a few years.
Have your say
This Green Paper presents a key opportunity to influence how public procurement regulation affects both suppliers and buyer of goods, services and works in the public sector.
The public consultation closes on 10 March 2021 so there is still time to have your say.
For full details, The Green Paper can be read here.