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

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Under the new legislation OJEU notices are now not to be published nationally until AFTER they have been published in the journal or 48 hours from the point of dispatch to OJEU (Article 52 of the 2014 EU Directive transposed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? Continue reading “Publication of OJEU notices at national level – the 48 hour publication rule”

Why are framework agreements important to SMEs?

Link to Tenders Direct homepage

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.

Continue reading “Why are framework agreements important to SMEs?”

The ban on PQQs and restrictions for use of supplier questionnaires

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?

Continue reading “The ban on PQQs and restrictions for use of supplier questionnaires”

Countdown to the 2015 General Election – Procurement in the manifestos

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%.

Continue reading “Countdown to the 2015 General Election – Procurement in the manifestos”

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

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 Continue reading “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

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: Continue reading “Public Contract Regulations 2015: The use of PINs in the restricted procedure”

‘Part B Services’ verses ‘Light Touch Regime’

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. Continue reading “‘Part B Services’ verses ‘Light Touch Regime’”

Contracts Finder – Friend or foe?

  • 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. Continue reading “Contracts Finder – Friend or foe?”

Key points from the pre-election Budget March 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.

Continue reading “Key points from the pre-election Budget March 2015”

2015 Procurement Regulations – Changes to the ITT stage – What Suppliers Need to Know.

Following on from our recent blog regarding the changes to the PQQ stage in the new 2015 Procurement Regulations we are going to look at what has changed at the ITT stage and what suppliers need to be aware of when tendering to the public sector.

The most important changes to the ITT stage for suppliers are:

1) There is now greater clarity regarding the rules on social and environmental aspects being taken into account in tenders meaning that:

  • social aspects can now also be taken into account in certain circumstances (in addition to environmental aspects which have previously been allowed);
  • contracting authorities can require certification/labels or other equivalent evidence of social/environmental characteristics, further facilitating procurement of contracts with social/environmental objectives;
  • contracting authorities can refer to factors directly linked to the production process.

The caveat to this is that any factors taken into account must be reasonably achievable for all suppliers so as not to favour larger companies or specific methodologies. We would encourage suppliers to keep a check on your key buyers to see what policies they have in these areas and how they are likely to implement these new rules. For example do they have a big drive on apprenticeships or carbon emissions you could support them on? In general it would be a good idea to start gathering data, case studies and evidence of your company’s positive social and environmental impacts to use in your responses going forward as the level of detail asked for in these questions is only going to increase.

2) Full life-cycle costing can be taken into account when awarding contracts; this could encourage more sustainable and/or better value procurement which will hopefully save money for tax payers in the long term. Continue reading “2015 Procurement Regulations – Changes to the ITT stage – What Suppliers Need to Know.”

%d bloggers like this: