New Year, New Guidance ...

As readers may be aware, several pieces of guidance in relation to procurement come into force with the coming of the new year. We thought it would be helpful to post a summary of these.

Coming in, from January 2011

New transparency obligations

Central government departments NPDBs and NHS Bodies are required to publish contracts worth over £10 000 from January 1st 2011. According the the guidance contracting authorities must include the specification the terms & conditions and the overall pricing scheme (although not necessarily a breakdown of pricing structure). Publications should be to a new portal called Contracts Finder; more information is provided at Annex B of the guidance. The guidance states that publication should take place within 20 days of the end of the standstill period. Redactions of information that would be exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act are permitted; the guidance contemplates a two-way dialogue between public bodies and suppliers about which information can be disclosed. The contracting authority must also complete and publish the proforma at Annex A of the guidance which gives details of how actual procurement timescales compared against estimates.

Readers will probably also be aware that from September 2010 Central government departments NPDBs and NHS Bodies have been required to publish tender documents in relation to contracts valued at over £10 000.

Contracts with small- and medium-sized entities (SMEs)

From January 1st 2011 Central government departments NPDBs and NHS Bodies when publishing contracts on the Contracts Finder are required to note where contracts have been awarded to SMEs.

Mandatory PQQ

The OGC has launched new PQQ guidance including a number of core PQQ questions which are mandatory for central government purchasers for procurements advertised from 1 December 2010 and which apply to all central government procurements where a PQQ would normally be used.

Departments have up to 1 January 2011 to fully integrate the core questions into their systems. For more details see the OGC guidance and the core PQQ questions.

Continuation of relaxation on conditions for use of accelerated restricted procedure no longer available to public bodies

Readers may recall that in 2009/2010 OGC guidance contemplated potential relaxation in the conditions required to be met for use of the accelerated restricted procedure as provided for following EU guidance on the impact of the changes in the global financial markets. Recent OGC guidance has confirmed that this relaxation has been extended until the end of 2011. Contracting authorities are required to keep statistics of how and when the relaxation is used in order that the OGC can report to the EU. This will include information on contract values the type of contract (supplies/works/services) business sector and types of purchased good/services etc.

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