• Simon Bullimore

    Head of Procurement

One in every three pounds of public money is spent on public procurement, equivalent to around £300 billion annually.

The new Procurement Bill aims to shake up an outdated system by introducing a new regime based on value for money, competition, commercial thinking, and objective criteria with decision-making. Following Brexit and the sequential efforts to distance ourselves from EU rulings, the Procurement Bill will aim to consolidate over 350 different regulations spread across different public sector areas into one solid platform that better meets the needs of the UK.

Now that the new Procurement Bill has made its way through Parliament, it’s understandable to feel anxious about its potential impact. Although there are areas where procurement decisions may become easier to challenge, there are also key areas which mean great things for procurement teams operating within the public sector.

The move away from Most Economically Advantageous Tender (MEAT) to Most Advantageous Tender (MAT) and the introduction of the Competitive Flexible Procedure will finally allow public procurement to adopt a far more commercial stance within its tendering. The Competitive Flexible Procedure is one of two new competitive tendering procedures proposed under the new bill. Outside of the well-known Open Procedure, the Competitive Flexible Procedure is described as ‘any other’ competitive process.

The clue is in the title – the procedure invites flexibility for contracting authorities to design their procurement process in a manner that best suits their needs. Stages of negotiation, presentations, site visits, and other key stages that would be commonplace in a private sector tender process can now be implemented. We are awarding against the MAT, no longer the MEAT, meaning if areas such as social value are high on your agenda, they can become key areas and high scoring elements of evaluation moving on from just price and quality.

We must also bear in mind that ‘flexible’ does not have to mean ‘complex’. We are still subject to compliance with the overriding principles of transparency, equal treatment, and non-discrimination, but as we seek to further engage with SME’s, drive innovation, promote commercial thinking and focus on ESG targets, this new procedure will open significant doors for us all.

To conclude, make sure you publish over-threshold opportunities and maintain the ethos of transparency and fairness, but fundamentally prepare for real change in how you can procure in the public sector going forward.

Source gov.uk