Public procurement: Green Paper and consultation set to transform government spending framework

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  • Procurement

14 January 2021

Procure

The Cabinet Office has published a Green Paper with proposals for the most significant and radical changes to the public procurement regime in many years.

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, improve commercial outcomes, and create opportunities for small businesses, charities and social enterprises.

Key proposals include:

  • harmonising the different regulatory schemes for the public sector, utilities and concessions contracts to create a single, uniform set of rules for all contracts (although the Green Paper doesn’t cover procurements for healthcare services, this area will be developed separately in consultation with the Department of Health and Social Care)
  • enshrining in law the principles of public procurement: value for money, the public good, transparency, integrity, efficiency, fair treatment of suppliers and non-discrimination
    • this includes increasing the scope to take account of social, economic and environmental criteria (Social Value) in selecting suppliers and awarding contracts
  • overhauling award procedures, whilst retaining the distinction between selection and award criteria: the Open Procedure will be retained and expanded for use, a new ‘competitive flexible procedure’ will replace all other current procedures, and the current negotiated procedure without prior publication of contract notice will be renamed the ‘limited tendering procedure’
  • simplifying the selection stage by allowing bidders to submit basic information via a central online database
  • making procurement more transparent by requiring the publication of procurement and contract data via the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS)
  • providing more scope to exclude suppliers in certain circumstances, such as for poor past performance, and corruption-related matters
  • providing for greater visibility on prompt payment throughout a public sector contract supply chain and ensuring all suppliers in the chain are paid within 30 days
  • reforming the process for challenging procurement decisions to speed up the review system and make it more accessible.

These procurement reforms follow the end of the Brexit Transition Period, with EU procurement rules no longer applicable.  From 1 January 2021, the UK’s new Find a Tender service (FaTS) has replaced the Official Journal of the European Union for publishing contract notices; meanwhile, the UK’s ongoing membership of the WTO Government Procurement Agreement, now in its own right, retains British businesses’ access to public procurement opportunities overseas.

We urge any professional engaged with public sector procurement to engage with the Transforming Public Procurement Green Paper to help shape public procurement for the future. With expert insight from our Procurement SIG, IWFM will examine the impact and implications of the proposals on clients and bidders before responding to the public consultation, which closes on 10 March 2021.

If you would like to share your views on this article or on the future of public procurement, please email: policy@iwfm.org.uk