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From speaking to our customers and suppliers, we’re hearing a mixed response to the changes, with a need for some clear guidance and step-by-step tools to unlock the potential of the new regime.

In the first of our series of blogs on the procurement reform over the coming months, I want to start by highlighting key areas of change that may have a direct impact on you.

Procurement Notices

This is an area where we’re already starting to see development. To address transparency as a core focus, we’ll see changes that will bring an increase in amount of admin to run procurements, specifically in the number of public notices that organisations will need to publish. The notice requirements will be part of each stage of the procurement process – planning, tender, contract award, contract commencement and implementation.

Tip: Familiarise yourself with the new notices. Make sure your e-tendering systems and portals are ready for the change.

 

Training

Recognising the impact of the biggest change to public procurement in a generation, the government is rolling out a free training package to support public sector organisations in implementing the new rules. The learning and development opportunity is being split into four distinct areas, defined by the audience they hope to reach.

The core training is not yet available but will be provided through the Government Commercial College for public sector organisations, which you can sign up to join now.

Available materials for public sector supply chains are a little less clear at the moment, with an emphasis being placed on public bodies to prepare their supply chains for the changes, rather than central support being provided.

However, at recent events, the Cabinet Office has recognised the importance of the supply chains in these developments and has promised a ‘Super User’ event for businesses prior to the changes being implemented.

Tip: Visit the government website to get the latest updates on training. Sign up for direct updates here.

Most public organisations can also already sign up to the Government Commercial College here which you’ll need to access when the training becomes available.

 

Routes to market

Existing processes will be replaced with two competitive procurement routes and a third direct award option in special cases:

In addition, public sector organisations will continue to be able to develop and award contracts through frameworks and dynamic markets (commonly known as DPS) using one of the methods set out above.

We welcome the new competitive, flexible procedure as a catalyst to unlock procurement value. In preparations for the upcoming changes, we’re using our category specialism and supplier relationships to rethink current approaches and to encourage new ideas. We understand that the capacity to develop innovative solutions can be tight, but we’d love to hear from you.

Tip: Contact one of our passionate innovator champions Sarah Sesum, Strategic Procurement Manager for Place and Agnieszka Gajli, Strategic Procurement Manager for People

 

Centralised procurement platform

Although specific detail is currently sparse, we know the government is currently building a new centralised digital portal for public procurements. The aim of the centralised procurement platform is to encourage transparency in public sector tendering by bringing all available information under one roof, which will include details on accessing notices, visibility of suppliers to the public sector and information on excluded suppliers.

A centralised digital platform marks a shifting trend of digitalisation within the public sector, with a number of apparent benefits including increased visibility of contracting opportunities for suppliers and increased support in the assessment of selection criteria for contracting authorities.

Most notably for suppliers, it’s hoped that the procurement platform will digitise the single procurement document, meaning suppliers will only need to fill out some information once which contracting authorities will then be able to find directly through the portal, reducing requirements to copy and paste static information from one tender to the next.

Tip: Suppliers should register for updates on the government website, as well as keep an eye out for the launch of the supplier portal so that you can register your business as soon as possible to save time later.

 

Introduction to the Procurement Review Unit (PRU)

This new unit, PRU - will replace the current Public Procurement Review Service and be overseen by the Cabinet Office to provide greater opportunities to make sure procurements are conducted fairly in accordance with the new regulations. It will have powers to investigate and make non-binding judgements and provide best practice guidance based on evidence, ultimately providing greater compliance and understanding for public organisations.

This extends the current provision of a free to access route to formally complain about various aspects of contracting authority conduct in relation to procurement. It falls short of an overhaul of the current judicial system, with formal challenges to overturn contracts or claim damages remaining a lengthy, uncertain and expensive prospect in most cases.

Tip: Although not much is available yet, you can see the type of work carried out by the current review service here which is useful for seeing the types of issues that could be considered by the PRU in the future.

These changes are due to go live in September/October 2024, with a six month notice period given prior to this to allow for proper implementation.

We'll be sharing content on various topics concerning the reform in more detail in the coming months and would love to hear about your own views on what you’d like to hear about from us, as we approach the implementation of the new regime. Email us at: [email protected]

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Raoul Robinson

Senior Legal and Compliance Manager
YPO