Following issue of the Green Paper on Transforming Public Procurement in December 2020, the Government has today published its response to the Green Paper. The government engaged with over 500 stakeholders in developing the proposals and received 619 responses to the consultation. You can read the full document here.
We will be posting more detail on what the proposed changes involve. In summary:
- The new legislation will provide for one single legal framework. There will be certain flexibilities retained for the utilities sector and specific security related exemptions for sensitive defence, security and civil procurement.
- The light touch regime will remain but with some amendments to improve its scope and application, for example, where service user choice is important in the contract being procured.
- The government intends to proceed with the three procedures outlined in the Green Paper – the open, flexible competitive and limited tendering procedures. The government intends to issue guidance to support use of the new competitive flexible procedure, for example by producing template options.
- A new exclusions framework will be introduced making it clearer to identify suppliers that pose an unacceptable risk to the delivery of public contracts.
- There will be changes to increase transparency throughout the procurement lifecycle. Given concerns around increasing the burden on contracting authorities, the government will publish detailed guidance to support contracting authorities.
- The government does not intend to introduce an independent review body in the event of a dispute. However, it does intend to bolster the existing Public Procurement Review Service to be known as the Procurement Review Unit (PRU). The PRU will sit within the Cabinet Office and will investigate cases of poor policy and practice and make informal recommendations.
- The majority of the proposals relating to procurement challenges will not be taken forward. The government is exploring options to accelerate procurement challenges with the Ministry of Justice.
Draft legislation will be put before parliament when time allows. Once the Bill is passed, there will need to be secondary legislation to implement specific elements of the new regime. Implementation is expected in 2023 - at the earliest. Given the scope of the changes, the government intends to provide six months’ notice ahead of the new regime coming into force.
We will be commenting on the proposed changes in more detail in forthcoming weeks.