The Future of Procurement

BusinessSales / Service

  • Author Dave Thornton
  • Published October 17, 2020
  • Word count 502

It is no secret that there are some important changes ahead that will affect public procurement. Factors such as the Brexit negotiations and changes from the Government are going to affect the way any UK businesses find and submit tenders from 2021 onwards. But what exactly are these changes, and how much of an impact will they actually have?

In terms of public procurement (contracts with the Government, local councils, emergency services, schools, and more), this process will remain unchanged until the Brexit transition phase ends on 31st December 2020, which could be extended. This, therefore, means that any frameworks won before the end of the year will continue to be unaffected, in-line with the framework timescales that can be until 2025.

At the end of the transition period, reports suggest that the Government is planning to rewrite procurement regulations, aiming to simplify the procurement process and better support UK businesses. Given that there are 15-20 main procurement portals used by the public sector, some of which can be rather clunky pieces of software, this is great news and surely will be welcomed for all involved in the procurement process.

A key change we will see is the introduction of the new UK e-notification service, named ‘Find a Tender’, which is set to be launched on 1st January 2020 and will replace the EU Publications office. This is particularly important in the case of a no-deal Brexit, where contracting authorities would no longer have access to Tenders Electronic Daily (TED).

This new service is likely to make the process of finding opportunities easier, however as mentioned there are 15-20 different procurement portals, most of which will not be linked to the new e-notification system. It is likely that the new service will be sat within the contracts finder, or vice versa, meaning it is more of a replacement for TED than a better solution in my opinion.

The Government is also introducing new measures to deliver value to society through public procurement from 2021. Although it’s great to see an update and formality introduced into emphasising social value during the procurement process, this is something that has largely been happening since 2012. From what we have observed through working on tenders for local councils, Government, and the public sector in general, for years it has been vital for us to emphasise social value in order to achieve a competitive advantage.

We will of course see the requirements become stricter - the key difference is that this is now a requirement for the central Government, rather than local councils and Government. From what we have seen, procurement teams, buyers and local councils are already well ahead in this practice and demonstrating social value in a large number of cases.

Overall, the main change we will see is the introduction of Find a Tender, which aims to make tenders easier to find. Whether or not these will be linked to the different procurement portals will determine whether this ends up being the better solution - only time will tell.

Dave Thornton is the Director of Thornton & Lowe. With a background in EU procurement, Dave founded the business in 2009.

He is now responsible for the strategic direction and sustainable growth of Thornton & Lowe. He provides hands-on support with regards to bid consultancy and procurement projects, as well as providing guidance and monitoring progress of the team.

Public Procurement

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