Brexit Update: What happens next for public procurement?
The UK has officially left the European Union but what does that mean in reality for public sector procurement? What has changed and what is going to change?
The government’s primary focus is to ensure as much continuity as possible within 2021, therefore the principals of the public procurement process will remain the same. Whenever you are spending public money you must be compliant, transparent and fair.
As it stands so far, the only change is how we publish procurement notices. We are no longer required to publish OJEU notices and advertise opportunities across the whole of Europe. Instead, the UK is now using a new e-tender notification service called Find a Tender Service (FTS). FTS is the compliant portal to use for supply chains to have a transparent and fair way to access all tenders.
The spend thresholds remains the same, anything over £189k must go through a procurement process either using a framework or a bespoke tender. Remember this is the aggregated cost for the lifespan of the contract. The timelines have also remained the same:
- Selection Questionnaire (SQ): 30 days
- Invitation to Tender (ITT) preparation: 30 days
- Invitation to Tender (ITT) out to market: 30 days
- Bid Evaluation: 30 days
- Standstill period: 10 days
- TUPE (if applicable): 30 days
What changes are likely to be made in the next six months?
The Cabinet Office has published a Green Paper on Transforming Public Procurement which sets out the UK’s longer-term intention for procurement reform. The previous OJEU process was bureaucratic and lengthy, and the Coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the need for a quicker and more flexible process. The Green Paper demonstrates a move from the government to refine and hone the public procurement process to make it easier to manage, more fit for purpose and efficient.
The consultation for the Green Paper ends on Wednesday 10th March 2021; you can read the paper and provide your comments. Ultimately, it is expected to turn into a White Paper in May, at which point it becomes legislative.
What are the expected outcomes when the Green Paper becomes a White Paper?
A new group within the government will be formed to look at whether the process is being followed and if any interventions are required. The group’s aim will be to ensure that everyone knows how to compliantly use the new process to get maximum value from their tenders to benefit their organisation’s needs.
If there are any breeches, this group could intervene and double check the robustness of your procurement process. Therefore, reaching out for advice and compliance support from external consultants might become more essential in the future.
Finally, lessons learnt from the pandemic shows a need for shorter procurements timescales with the potential to modify contracts when needed. This was shown by the various Cabinet Office PPNs that allowed you to compliantly exit a contract if it was no longer fit for purpose. This practice could be at the forefront for when the White Paper does come out.
We will provide another update when more information is published. If you have any questions or would like some advice on your own contracts and tenders, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.