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The Public Procurement regulations continue to be reviewed and revised, and the UK government has said it will give six months’ notice of “go-live” for any changes to the public procurement regulations, though it is likely to be 2023 at the earliest. Changes follow a consultation on the government’s green paper Transforming Public Procurement.

New monitoring body

A new Procurement Review Unit (PRU) is being set up, to monitor any breaches of regulations. The PRU will have the authority to enable investigations of any potential breach of the procurement regulations by a contracting authority. It won’t intervene in specific procurement decisions but will make recommendations to contracting authorities following a complaint by a supplier.

The unit will be made up of a team of civil servants and the panel itself is unlikely to communicate directly with any contracting authorities during any investigation. It will advise officials in the PRU, during the process, and compile a report making any recommendations. The views of the panel will be taken into account, but it will ultimately be for the minister for the Cabinet Office to issue, and decide the nature of, any recommendations. The panel itself will not have any authority to make specific sanctions.

Three new procurement procedures are to be introduced:

  • a new “flexible competitive procedure” that gives buyers freedom to negotiate and innovate, to get the best from the private, charity and social enterprise sectors.
  • an “open procedure” for simpler competitions.
  • a “limited tendering procedure” that can be used in certain circumstances such as extreme urgency.

Changing criteria

Tenders are currently awarded on the basis of the “most economically advantageous” – something the Pelican team is careful to follow. New government guidance will change this, requiring any award to be based on the “most advantageous tender” (MAT).

This change is to encourage contracting authorities to give more consideration to social value when procuring public contracts; and will provide further clarity when determining evaluation criteria, so a broader view can be taken as to what will be included.

Also coming is a consolidation of current EU rules, laid out in a green paper. New procurement legislation will appear familiar and contracting authorities will recognise similarities in its application, scope and definitions. The new provisions on principles, procedures, purchasing tools, conditions of participation, contract award, legal challenges and remedies will be set out in much simpler and clearer language than the EU terminology used currently.

Checking on suppliers

One area where attention is likely to intensify is modern slavery risk management and compliance. Companies who have already examined their tier one suppliers, but haven’t sufficiently met the challenge of drilling down into their broader supplier network, will need to ensure they also have visibility beyond tier one and improve their ability in digital reporting to improve compliance.

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