The Cabinet Office has today published PPN 03/23 which introduces a new Standard Selection questionnaire for use in all new procurements to which the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 apply.
The PPN replaces PPN 08/16 and updates the Selection Questionnaire (SQ) and accompanying statutory guidance.
The revised standard selection questions should be used for all new procurements starting on 1 April 2023and beyond, but can be used immediately. Contracting authorities will need to incorporate the revised selection questions into their procurement processes and e-procurement tools for forthcoming procurements.
The amendments are based on feedback from buyers and suppliers to improve the supplier selection process, and reflect changes to policy since the first SSQ was published in 2016. Some changes are only relevant to central government procurements but will still be of interest to other contracting authorities.
The changes include:
- clarity on changes contracting authorities can make to the wording of questions;
- clarity on what is meant by “relying on another organisation” to meet the selection criteria;
- clarity for contracting authorities on seeking information from groups of suppliers;
- amendments to financial questions and checks;
- introduction of health and safety questions;
- introduction of supply chains questions;
- introduction of data protection questions;
- introduction of additional requirements for modern slavery and clarity on handling responses to questions on the Modern Slavery Act (PPN 02/23 gives further guidance; see our blog post here);
- introduction of questions related to reducing carbon emissions in accordance with PPN 06/21;
- introduction of updated payment questions (see PPN 08/21); and
- formatting the SQ template responses to Part 2 (exclusion) questions as self-declarations rather than yes/no answers.
As with the previous version of the SSQ, authorities will need to decide upon their own selection criteria and scoring system for assessing whether suppliers meet the selection criteria. The selection criteria must be relevant and proportionate in all cases not only to ensure legal compliance but to ensure that the right bidders are being shortlisted in procurement exercises.
Those entities bidding for public contracts will need to familiarise themselves with the new format of the SSQ and may wish to prepare standard responses to each of the questions.
Our 5 in 25 webinars look at common issues at the selection stage. A recording and Q&A can be found here. These issues remain relevant when using the new SSQ.
If you have any questions on the application of the new SSQ to your procurement, do get in touch with [email protected].