Procurement reform – Full steam ahead19/05/21
The Queen’s speech last week has confirmed that it is full steam ahead with procurement reform, with the new Procurement Bill expected in September 2021. We outline the next steps below.
The Green Paper
At the end of 2020, the government published its Green Paper on reforming the law of procurement. The aim of the proposals were to simplify the procurement process whilst ensuring the fundamental principles of transparency, equality and impartiality are still achieved. An overview of the key proposals can be found in our earlier insight.
The Queen’s Speech
On 11 May 2021, the Queen delivered her annual “Queen’s Speech” which touched on the Green Paper. In the speech, the benefits of the procurement reform were discussed, including the following:
- Improving transparency within the ‘commercial lifecycle’ by publishing procurement data in an open format that will be accessible to everyone.
- Modernising the procurement rules so that they are more ‘innovative and diverse’, taking into account the wider social value when picking suppliers.
- Creating a single public procurement framework by consolidating the numerous regulations that are currently in place to allow for more freedom.
In addition, the government is intending to publish the first National Procurement Policy Statement (NPPS) which will include guidelines on how the new process can support strategic national priorities for public procurement.
The Queen announced that the government aims to publish the Procurement Bill in September 2021.
The results of the consultation to the Green Paper are still awaited but are anticipated to be received in the coming months. Providing there are no new considerations raised as part of the consultation, the Procurement Bill has a good chance of being on track for September issue.
Once issued, the Bill will still require extensive discussions in Parliament before being given Royal Assent and becoming entrenched in law. Changes to the current procurement regulations are still a way off and it is “business as usual” for the public sector. However, the September draft Bill will give an insight into how the procurement rules will change whilst taking into account any questions raised and the responses given from the consultation stage. We may even see specific details on the flexibility of a centralised framework and how this will fair following Brexit.
In the last 12 months, Public Procurement has really been under spotlight. Procurement professionals and bidders will no doubt welcome any simplification and clarity around what can be considered in procurement processes now that the UK has left the EU, and in the context of the World Trade Organisation Agreement on Government Procurement. The new processes and publication requirements are likely to impact on the way that projects and award processes are planned.
However, as we are still at the early stages of consultation, there is still much more to see – as always the “devil is in the detail”. Nonetheless, this will be an exciting time for change and looks to be moving at pace. Capsticks will therefore be keeping a watchful eye on the upcoming responses to the Green Paper consultation and we will support clients navigating through the changes.
How Capsticks can help
Capsticks act for a number of public and private sector clients. With extensive knowledge of procurement law, our specialist team are always on hand to review and advise on any aspects of the procurement process.
If you have any queries around what is discussed in this article, and the impact on your organisation, please speak to Katrina Day or Mary Mundy to find out more about how Capsticks can help.