Tenders Direct Blog

Comment from the experts at Tenders Direct.

SME access by splitting contracts into lots

Posted by Line Olsen on June 29, 2015

In 2014 the European Union adopted new procurement Directives for Public sector, Utility sector and Concessions contracts.  With the reform of the Directives they hope to achieve better access to public contracts for SMEs. One of the measures set into place to do this is the rule encouraging contracting authorities to split contracts into lots. The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 transposed the 2014 Public Sector Directive in February 2015, and with it the “Split your lots” rule. With this blog I hope to make it a bit more clear what a contracting authority is required to do.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in General Procurement, Politics of Procurement, Procurement Law | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Time-scales under the 2015 Public Contracts Regulations

Posted by Kim Postlethwaite on June 22, 2015

The recent Tenders Direct Blog posts have been explaining and commenting on the new rules applicable under the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 that transposed the 2014 EU Directive. One of the most common queries received by the support desks at Millstream have been surrounding what the new minimum time-scales for the various procedures are. This blog post aims to assist in clarifying these time limits. A printable version of the time limits for the most common procedures can also be found on Millstream’s mytenders portal here.

The time limits refer to the number of calendar days prior to the deadline for submission of responses. They start from the date the notice is sent to OJEU for publication. This does cause some concern with both suppliers and buyers as it Read the rest of this entry »

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The Mystery Shopper Service

Posted by Cindy Cheng on June 15, 2015

Bidding can be both pressurised and also rewarding for suppliers to the public sector. There are many concerns for suppliers during this time such as completing all the relevant documents to meet the deadline, getting adequate responses from the buyers on the Q&A or that the process is being run fairly.  Poor procurement practice by the buyers may go unnoticed under these circumstances and many suppliers are reticent to raise a challenge and risk future contract opportunities. So what happens when you realise there are potential issues? The Mystery Shopper Service offers a solution to this problem.

A Brief Overview

The Mystery Shopper Service aims to tackle any concerns suppliers (particularly SMEs) may have regarding poorly conducted procurement processes which they have been part of on behalf of the suppliers. The service welcomes questions at any stage of the Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in General Procurement, Tender Tips | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Millstream at the Public Sector Show on 23rd June in London

Posted by Gemma Waring on June 4, 2015

Millstream will be attending the Public Sector Show on the 23rd of June at London’s Excel Centre.

We will be showcasing our mytenders etendering system which helps Buyers to compile and publish contract notices automatically to both Contracts Finder and OJEU and our Training and Consultancy services which are there to support you to get the most out of the mytenders system and tackle common procurement challenges and skills gaps.

Come down and see us on stand 352 opposite the Crown Commercial Services stand and find out more about what we do and how we can support you and your procurement teams to remain compliant with new legislation, simplify your procurement Read the rest of this entry »

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Little fish in a bid pond? How SMEs can break into public sector procurement.

Posted by Gemma Waring on May 27, 2015

A lot of potential suppliers to the public sector are put off by the amount of work it takes to become tender ready and what seems to be a chicken and egg situation where you need references to pass the PQQ (selection) stage but can’t get references until you win a contract!

The changes to the procurement regulations this year have made in roads to this situation with the abolition of PQQs for below threshold contracts and the removal of the burden of proof for above threshold contracts but there are a number of steps SMEs (and all organisations new to public sector tendering) can take to get a foot in the door and start supplying to the public sector. Read the rest of this entry »

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How do you challenge a buyer when you feel the procurement is flawed?

Posted by Gemma Waring on May 20, 2015

This blog covers the remedies directive for the public sector and when/how you can raise a challenge against a contracting authority.

The EU Remedies Directive was created in 2007 and transposed into UK law with the updated Public Contracts Regulations in 2009. The Directive brought in two very clear and important changes for suppliers to be aware of which were:

  • a right to challenge the buyer if a contract is entered into before the compulsory standstill period has ended (standstill being the minimum 10 day period where buyers notify all bidders of the intended outcome before contracts can begin); and
  • an automatic right to challenge an award decision and have the contract cancelled or modified if there has been any breach of the wider procurement rules.

In addition, the 2009 Regulations introduced a number of other changes, including: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in General Procurement, Procurement Law, Tender Tips | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Publication of OJEU notices at national level – the 48 hour publication rule

Posted by Kim Postlethwaite on May 11, 2015

The rules on when an OJEU notice can be advertised nationally have changed. This blog post will aim to clarify the new rules and discuss the benefits and shortcomings of these new rules.

What are the rules?

Under the new legislation OJEU notices are now not to be published nationally until AFTER they have been published in the journal or 48 hours from the point of dispatch to OJEU (Article 52 of the 2014 EU Directive transposed in Regulation 52 of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015). The addition of the “or 48 hours from dispatch” is likely to be due to the fact that OPOCE (the publication office for OJEU) have 5 working days to publish a notice, if they were to exercise this full 5 working days then this may adversely affect the time the notice is publicly advertised for.

In addition, for contracting authorities in England, Regulation 106 states that OJEU notices MUST be published on Contracts Finder within 24 hours of them appearing in OJEU.

Please note that the minimum timescales for a notice to be advertised continues to be from the point the notice is dispatched to OJEU and NOT the point the notice is published. The legislation does continue to state that “adequate” time must be given so some consideration should be given to the delays caused by these new rules.

How has this changed?

Previously there was not a statutory obligation to advertise in Contracts Finder and an OJEU notice could be advertised nationally as soon as it was dispatched to OJEU (Article 36 of the 2004 EU Directive transposed in Regulation 42 of the Public Contracts Regulations 2006).

What does this mean in practice? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Procurement Law | 2 Comments »

Why are framework agreements important to SMEs?

Posted by David Law on May 5, 2015

In our blog about election manifestos one thing that was clear is that all the main parties feel that involvement of SMEs in procurement is the key to economic growth. The current Government set a target of 25% of all Central Governments spend to be with SMEs when it came to power in 2010 and it met this target in the 2013-2014 financial year. Framework agreements represent around 45% of procurements in the UK and compared to other EU nations the UK uses this type the most. The purpose of this blog is to explain how important framework agreements can be for SMEs.

They can be broken down into lots. In the new regulations it suggests that authorities can break tenders down into lots where applicable. Although this has always been an option, there has been a change in focus initiating a ‘do it or justify why not’ approach which is good news for SMEs as it means that larger contracts that would previously have been out of reach for SMEs are now available. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in General Procurement, Tender Tips | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The ban on PQQs and restrictions for use of supplier questionnaires

Posted by Line Olsen on April 27, 2015

What many have failed to realise is that with the Public Sector Directive 2015 the Cabinet Office has introduced strong restrictions on Public Sector Buyers when it comes to prequalification of suppliers and the use of supplier questionnaires.

The use of prequalification procedures has been banned for some procurements and the use of standard supplier questionnaires introduced for others. Contracting authorities that fail to follow these restrictions are also expected to self-report. There is no doubt that these changes will have a big impact on the public sector going forward, and suppliers will be affected as well.

So why has this been introduced?

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Posted in General Procurement, Politics of Procurement, Procurement Law | Tagged: , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Countdown to the 2015 General Election – Procurement in the manifestos

Posted by Gemma Waring on April 20, 2015

With suppliers and buyers already busy understanding and implementing the 2015 Procurement Regulations they may find that the landscape shifts again after the general election in May. While the new regulations will stay in force and are unlikely to change with a new government, its important to understand what each of the main parties are saying about procurement and how that might impact the sector in the coming years.

Obviously wider policy initiatives such as NHS spending, defence projects and education reforms will have an impact on procurement but here is what each party has said in their manifesto about specific procurement policies (i.e. how they will change how procurement is conducted):

Conservatives

  • Will raise the target for SME’s involvement in procurement raising their share of central government procurement from 25% to 33%.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Politics of Procurement | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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