The UK government yesterday launched a green paper, a series of proposed changes to procurement rules, purporting to put transparency and increased community value at the centre of its new approach.
Certainly 2020 has seen the Government come under significant scrutiny in it’s procurement processes, with a litany of ineffective contracts awarded in the emergency response to the pandemic. If there ever were a catalyst for procurement change, it has been Covid-19.
In any given year, the government buys around £292 billion of services from the private sector. These new measures aim to allow more flexibility for buyers, enabling government to better respond at scale and better use taxpayer funds. It hopes to drive increased competition through much simpler procurement procedures and provide wider societal benefit through including the assessment of social value, for the first time, when awarding contracts.
The rules will certainly help small businesses, who often struggle to match the buying power of large businesses with more significant infrastructure, more established trade and supply chain networks or direct inroads to government officials.
By levelling the playing field for SMEs, new opportunities will hopefully open up. If these proposed changes materialise, they should make it easier for SME’s to win contracts, which in turn will drive local economies, support jobs growth, increase innovation and therefore increase prosperity in communities across the UK.
The rule changes include streamlining the regulatory framework down to three procedures. Assessment will now include a wider range of parameters, including for the first time, economic, social and environmental measures and importantly, the ability to review bidders past performance, and the ability to exclude suppliers who have previously failed to deliver.
The effects of these rules changes should flow on to any further emergency procurement required, which we’ve seen so much of in 2020.These new rules will allow greater competitiveness at speed, and limit the need for government to directly awards contracts with little competition or rigour around delivery capability and cost.
The biggest winner in the new framework is transparency. There will be greater transparency for how taxpayers money is spent, more details on who it is spent on and greater visibility of previous poor performance of contract awards winners. This is all welcome news, as is the new spotlight on the broader effects of procurement through assessing social and environmental impacts as well as economic impact. The green paper is available here, we’ll be looking more closely at it in coming weeks.
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