Procurement in the UK public sector is governed by a set of rules and regulations designed to ensure fairness, transparency, and value for money. These are not just buzzwords but legal requirements that shape the way public entities must engage with suppliers. For technology suppliers, navigating this landscape can be daunting, but it’s essential for securing government contracts. In this blog, we delve into the key regulations you need to be aware of, the overarching public procurement policy, and the recent proposed changes to the Procurement Bill as of October 2023.
Understanding the basics
The Public Contracts Regulations 2015
The Public Contracts Regulations dictate how procurement should be performed, emphasising non-discrimination, equal treatment, and competitive tendering. Understanding these regulations is non-negotiable for tech suppliers who wish to engage in public sector contracts.
The Role of Crown Commercial Service (CCS)
CCS plays a pivotal role in the UK’s procurement landscape. They provide policy guidance and manage a range of commercial agreements used by public sector organisations. For tech suppliers, being familiar with CCS frameworks is arguably the first step of your public sector journey!
Decoding Public Procurement Policy
Public procurement policy sets out the government’s objectives and expectations from its procurement activities. It’s designed to ensure that every pound spent delivers not just value for money but also contributes to wider social benefits.
Key Policies to Consider
The Green Paper on Transforming Public Procurement
The Green Paper presented a vision to overhaul public procurement, proposing reforms to cut red tape and modernize the process. It laid the groundwork for more transformative changes that will be reflected in the Procurement Bill.
Social Value in Procurement
Tech suppliers should also understand the increasing emphasis on social value in procurement. This means considering how your services can deliver broader benefits, such as supporting local communities or advancing environmental sustainability.
The Procurement Bill 2023: What’s new?
The latest proposed updates to the Procurement Bill, introduced in October 2023, are set to further evolve the UK’s procurement landscape. The House of Commons and House of Lords have both agreed on the wording of the Bill and it is now an official Act. The next steps are to produce the secondary legislation that will implement the different parts of the Act. We will be given 6 months’ notice once legislation is complete, before the regime starts – which is expected to be October 2024.
Simplification of Procedures
One of the bill’s objectives is to make procurement more accessible. This is particularly beneficial for SMEs. It could mean more user-friendly portals and less burdensome requirements for bidding on contracts.
Transparency and Accountability
New measures are expected to enhance transparency and accountability. This will likely involve more rigorous reporting on contract performance, making it essential for suppliers to maintain high standards of service delivery and compliance.
National Procurement Policy Statement
The integration of the National Procurement Policy Statement into the Bill emphasises the alignment of procurement with national priorities, such as economic resilience and climate change. Suppliers will need to demonstrate how their solutions can support these priorities.
Preparing for the Changes
As you have seen, the public sector procurement landscape is dynamic with regular changes to policies and rules. To stay not only competitive but most importantly compliant, suppliers need to get a grasp of what the legislation means for them and be proactive. Here’s how:
Engage with Policy Developments
Keep an ear to the ground for legislative changes and participate in consultations and policy discussions when possible. This not only allows you to anticipate shifts in the regulatory environment but also to influence policy in a way that supports innovation and growth in the public sector technology landscape.
Stay Informed through Professional Bodies
Engage with industry groups, professional bodies, and trade associations that offer resources, training, and updates specific to public sector procurement. They often provide valuable insights into how new regulations are being implemented on the ground. We recently hosted a webinar to help suppliers understand the rules and regulations that will affect them – you can catch up on the recording of that here.
Leverage technology and data
In an era where digital innovation is key, tech suppliers need to utilise advanced digital tools and data analysis. These technologies can significantly aid in complying with evolving procurement regulations. For instance, implementing data analytics enables you to monitor and enhance your performance metrics. This approach not only offers a competitive advantage but also ensures compliance with new transparency requirements.
Build Agility into Your Business Model
The ability to adapt quickly to new regulations is a key advantage. Consider agile methodologies in your project management to respond swiftly to changing contract requirements and procurement processes. You can learn more about what it means to engage in agile procurement practices here.
Invest in Training and Skills Development
Beyond understanding the regulations, ensure that your team has the necessary skills to navigate them. Investing in training around procurement processes, proposal writing, and contract management can be a game-changer.
As we have explored, the landscape of public sector procurement is one of constant evolution, shaped by new regulations and policies aimed at promoting transparency, fairness, and value across all levels of government spending. The recent Procurement Bill acts as a testament to the UK’s commitment to these principles, setting the stage for a more streamlined and accessible process for suppliers of all sizes. Understanding and adapting to these procurement rules and regulations is essential.