Tenders Direct Blog

Comment from the experts at Tenders Direct.

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 »

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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Under the new legislation OJEU notices are now not to be published nationally until AFTER they have been published in the journal or 48 hours from the point of dispatch to OJEU (Article 52 of the 2014 EU Directive transposed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?

Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Social and environmental factors in the new regulations – How will they impact buyers?

Posted by Cindy Cheng on April 13, 2015

The recent changes in the public procurement regulations have resulted in greater clarity concerning the rules on social and environmental aspects.

Social aspects can now also be taken into account in certain circumstances (in addition to environmental aspects which have previously been allowed)

In practice this could mean including specifications for design work to contain accessibility for people with disabilities, compliance with applicable social legislation such as current employment law and adherence to labour law obligations. (Regulation 42).

Environmental aspects are already considered in the majority of tenders and usually focus on expected environmental performance levels, sustainability issues and any applicable environmental legislation

Buyers will now be able to reserve procurement procedures to encourage social inclusion Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Procurement Law, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off on Social and environmental factors in the new regulations – How will they impact buyers?

Public Contract Regulations 2015: The use of PINs in the restricted procedure

Posted by Gemma Waring on April 8, 2015

Under the new regulations there has been a change in the way a Prior Information Notice (PIN) can be used by sub-central contracting authorities in the restricted procedure and this blog will take a look at the change and what impact it has on this procedure.

In short a PIN can now be used, by sub-central contracting authorities, as a means of calling for competition in place of a contract notice (Regulation 28) and can also be used in place of a PQQ stage with selected suppliers being taken straight to the tendering stage. This is in addition to the traditional use of a PIN which is to notify the market of a possible opportunity so, under the new regulations, the PIN has a dual function. If the PIN is being used as a call to competition it must contain the information outlined in Annex V Part B I and II in the 2014 Procurement Directive. In summary the PIN must contain standard information such as: Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Part B Services’ verses ‘Light Touch Regime’

Posted by Kim Postlethwaite on March 30, 2015

Under the new regulations ‘Part B services’ have been abolished and replaced with the new ‘light touch regime’. Below we cover what the new rules are, what has changed and whether this is a change for the better.

Part B Services: What were the rules?

Under the previous regulations all services were split into two – Part A and Part B. All services fell into one of 27 service categories – service categories 1-16 were Part A and subject to the full procurement regulations whereas service categories 17-27 were Part B and were essentially exempt from the rules (although an award notice was required). The service category that the service fell under was determined by the CPV codes. The purpose of this was to exempt services which were considered to not have cross border interest from the strict EU publication rules. Services are considered to not have cross border interest when it is unlikely that a service provider in one country can (or will be willing to) provide their service in a different country – for example, hotel services or legal service.

However, part B was occasionally taken advantage of and notices that did have cross border interest were incorrectly excluded from the rules. This was often due to the use of service category 27 which was “Other services” and covered any service that did not fall into the CPV codes listed under any of the other, more specific, service categories 1-26.

Light Touch Regime: What now?

When reviewing the legislation it was deemed that services with no cross border interest do still need to be treated differently however, much discussion took place to determine WHICH services were to be considered to not have cross border interest and WHAT the rules would be. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Procurement Law | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Contracts Finder – Friend or foe?

Posted by Line Olsen on March 23, 2015

  • What is Contracts Finder?
  • Why do Contracting Authorities in England have to publish on Contracts Finder?
  • How do you publish to Contracts Finder?

Have you asked yourself any of these questions? This short blog will provide the answers.

About Contracts Finder:

Contracts Finder was first launched in 2011 by the Prime Minister as an online tool displaying the details of public contract opportunities and contracts above £10,000. The launch was a step by the government towards creating a more transparent system that removes obstacles and provides better access to contract opportunities for small businesses.

With the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 coming into force in the UK on the 26th of February, a BETA version of the new Contracts Finder was launched. It is intended that the new Contracts Finder along with the reforms recommended by the Lord Young’s report, introduced within part four of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 is the governments next step in providing smaller businesses (SME’s) and voluntary or charitable organisations (VCSEs) with easier access to public contract opportunities and improve transparency. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in General Procurement, Procurement Law | Comments Off on Contracts Finder – Friend or foe?

Key points from the pre-election Budget March 2015

Posted by Alastair Caithness on March 18, 2015

The key points from today’s Budget

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, today delivered his final Budget statement ahead of the General Election in May.

George Osborne

The key announcements included:

  • The UK economy grew by 2.6% in 2014, with growth forecast at 2.5% for the year ahead. In addition, employment has reached record levels, trade deficit figures were described as “the best for 15 years” and living standards were reportedly higher than in May 2010, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR). Inflation was projected to fall to 0.2% in 2015.
  • The deficit has been halved since 2010 as a share of national income, with borrowing set to fall to £90.2billion in 2014-15 and further to £75.3billion in 2015-16.
  • Plans to cut £13billion from government departments and £12billion from welfare spending.
  • The pension pot lifetime allowance will be reduced from £1.25million to £1million from next year. The law will be changed to allow pensioners to access their annuities, with the 55% tax charge abolished and tax applied at the marginal rate. An additional investment of £25million to support army veterans was also announced.
  • Beer duty will be cut by 1p, cider and whisky by 2p, and wine duty will be frozen. Tobacco duty remains unchanged.
  • A planned increase for petrol duty in September has been scrapped.
  • The personal tax-free allowance will rise to £10,900 in 2015-16 and again to £11,000 in 2016-17. The 40p tax threshold will also rise above inflation, from £42,385 to £43,300. Also on personal taxation, annual paper tax returns will be abolished and a review of inheritance tax avoidance through deeds of variation will take place.
  • A new personal savings allowance – with the first £1,000 interest becoming tax free – and the annual savings limit for ISAs increasing to £15,240.
  • New Help to Buy ISAs for first-time buyers which the government will top up by £50 for every £200 saved for a deposit
  • A tax on diverted profits, to tackle multinational profits being “artificially moved offshore”, will be launched next month. The annual bank levy rises to 0.21%.
  • The supplementary charge on North Sea oil producers will be cut from 30% to 20% and a new tax allowance will encourage investment.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in General Procurement | Leave a Comment »

 
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