The Procurement Bill 2022 - New Government guidance published for contracting authorities
As set out in the cabinet office green paper published in December 2020, the UK Government views the UK's exit from the European Union as a historic opportunity to overhaul the complex public procurement regime. The Procurement Bill 2022 (the "Bill"), which largely aligns with the proposals set out in the green paper, will lead to considerable changes in the way public sector organisations procure goods, works and services. The Bill aims to consolidate and refine the UK's multi-faceted body of procurement legislation into a single legal framework which will regulate public contracts, utilities, concessions and defence contracts.
In October 2022, the UK Government published two new resources in order to support the successful implementation of the new regime when it comes into force. Public sector bodies can access links to the new resources below:
The Bill was introduced in the House of Lords in May 2022, and is due to enter into force in 2023. In anticipation of the change, the Government has set up a Transforming Public Procurement webpage with materials to help all "contracting authorities" (which covers all those contracting entities previously subject to the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, Utilities Contracts Regulations 2016, Concession Contracts Regulations 2016 and the Defence and Security Public Contracts Regulations 2011) prepare for the upcoming changes.
Early consideration by contracting authorities required
The planning and preparation checklist identifies the following key areas, which the Government propose contracting authorities should give early consideration to in order to best prepare for the forthcoming changes in procurement law:
- Processes and policies: Ensuring current processes are robust on areas such as pre-market engagement and supplier evaluation/assessment with governance documents that record key decisions.
- Systems: Ensuring compliance with the Government’s transparency agenda as outlined in its Transforming Public Procurement document and readiness to meet the Government's new data requirements.
- People: Ensure the correct people are attending training and benchmark your organisation against relevant commercial and procurement operating standards.
- Transition: Ensuring that contract details are up to date; reviewing pipelines to identify planned procurement activity; engaging with supply chains about the new regime.
The commercial functions section of the cabinet office has indicated that it will provide a Learning and Development Programme to assist stakeholders in adopting to the new legislative changes. However, the programme is not yet available.
The Bill will be subject to further parliamentary scrutiny in the House of Lords and Commons, and inherently, there are likely to be further amendments. As such, while the new Government resources provide a high level framework and identify areas organisations can proactively give thought to, substantive details on content available to support the Bill's implementation is yet to come.
The Government's stated aim of the Bill is to create a simpler and more flexible commercial system, open up public procurement for new entrants including small businesses and social enterprises and embed transparency throughout the commercial lifecycle so that the spending of taxpayers’ money can be scrutinised. Whilst much of the principles of the current regime will remain the same, the introduction of such large and technical legislation which governs the public expenditure of some £300b a year, will inevitably need to be scrutinised thoroughly by contracting authorities, at the earliest possible opportunity.
For further information, in relation to this topic, please contact a member of the ALG Belfast Public Procurement team.
Date published: 9 November 2022