Are Public Contracting Authorities complying with their publication obligations when awarding through Frameworks?
In the years 2014 to 2015, the government saw a significant growth in purchasing from small businesses with an overall aim for £1 in every £3 of central government expenditure to be spent with small businesses by 2020.
This target was bolstered by the introduction of key reforms into the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 aimed towards supporting national enterprise and growth by mandating that contract opportunities and awards be advertised through the governments “Contract Finder” portal, located on its .gov website.
Over 2 years after the implementation of the new regulations, some public authorities are still unclear as to their responsibilities for the publication of contract awards made through third party Frameworks.
YPO has been taking action to encourage compliance with this mandated requirement and have observed that:
- most non-procurement staff conducting Framework call-offs are not aware of Contracts Finder at all
- most customers believed that full compliance with the regulations was completed by awarding via a Framework/DPS
- some customers believed that YPO advertise the award through contracts finder*
The Crown Commercial Service have provided the following useful guidance:
"In line with the new transparency requirements there is an obligation in the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 for the contracting authority to advertise contracts awarded through Contracts Finder for a contract value of £10,000 for Central Government and £25,000 contract value for non-Central Government.
Details of all contracts awarded above the relevant threshold should be published. This includes those awarded following call-offs from Framework Agreements.
It is the responsibility of the contracting authority awarding the contract to publish details of the award on Contracts Finder (*unless alternative arrangements to publish have been agreed, i.e framework owner has agreed to publish the contract of behalf of the authority).
Contracting authorities must publish on Contracts Finder, details of who has won the contract, the contract value, and (for procurements below the EU thresholds), indicate whether the winning supplier is a small business or voluntary organisation or charity.
The information must be published in a reasonable time."
All public contracting authorities looking to call-off a third-party Framework Agreement should always consult with their procurement team, or the relevant team at YPO, as to who will be responsible for publishing the award notification. This will help ensure compliance with the regulations as well as promote the better transparency and fairness of procurement practices.