As organisations continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cabinet Office has issued a Procurement Policy Note (PPN 01/21). This reiterates PPN 01/20 which was issued at the start of the pandemic setting out the procurement options available to Contracting Authorities during an emergency.  PPN 01/21 further highlights the commercial risks inherent in direct awards without competition.

The PPN sets out the importance of Contracting Authorities continuing to achieve value for money and using good commercial judgement and sound decision-making in an emergency, including when making direct awards. Contracting Authorities need to manage these principles in the context of the broader risk of not being able to secure the required goods or services in a timely manner.

The PPN highlights the potential risks that may arise when procuring in an emergency:

  • poor value for money such as abnormally high pricing
  • unequal treatment of suppliers in the procurement process
  • poor practice due to procuring at speed, such as retrospective contract awards or retrospective due diligence checks
  • lack of documentation around key procurement decisions including how conflicts of interest are identified and managed.

The PPN states that Contracting Authorities should consider whether it is possible to publish some form of advertisement, run an informal competition and/or undertake due diligence on the supplier market before making a direct award, potentially allowing value for money to be achieved.

As highlighted in the PPN, Contracting Authorities must maintain an audit trail and evidence base to demonstrate and justify the Contracting Authorities’ decision making process for the procurement and managing conflicts of interests.  

PPN 01/21 can be accessed fully here.

How can Capsticks help?

Our team of procurement specialists can help you navigate through your procurement options and decision making process and prepare the contractual documents to govern your arrangements with suppliers, including building in appropriate review mechanisms. We have been advising our clients since the start of the pandemic and navigating them through their procurement options to seek to ensure service continuity is maintained for goods, services and works. 

If you have any questions around this insight or have general procurement queries, please contact Tracy Giles or Anjli Vyas (healthcare or emergency services), or Lee Clarke or Katrina Day (housing) to find out more about how we can help.