Cabinet Office consultation on public contracts

Cabinet Office sign

In December 2010 the Cabinet Office invited feedback on the effectiveness of the public procurement rules. The purpose of that exercise was to inform the UK’s involvement in the ongoing review of the rules by the European Commission.

The Commission’s review is still underway, and it has now released a formal public consultation paper to which the Cabinet Office is preparing a UK response. Since the Commission’s recent consultation paper is substantially more detailed than the information previously provided by the Cabinet Office, they have extended the deadline for comments until 25th February.

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Supreme Court overturns procurement case

Supreme Court logo

The Supreme Court yesterday (9th February 2011) delivered a landmark judgement in the first procurement case to reach the court, overturning previous decisions of the High Court and the Court of Appeal. Supreme Court logo

The economic downturn and the massive cuts in funding for local authorities which are now beginning to flow through will increasingly require councils to look for new and innovative ways to deliver services. In February 2007, the London Borough of Brent invited tenders in accordance with the Public Contracts Regulations 2006, (the Procurement Regulations), for the provision of insurance. The company Risk Management Partners (RMP) submitted a tender, but was informed on 7 March 2007 that Brent had decided to award the contract to London Authorities Mutual Limited (LAML) which had not taken part in the competition. LAML was formed by a group of local authorities to provide insurance to the member authorities. Brent became a member of, and helped to fund, LAML, a guaranteed indemnity mutual insurance company. There was an expected saving of 15 to 20 per cent in comparison with external insurance.

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The Mystery Behind Part B Services

When I was working in customer services for Tenders Direct I was always getting asked about the loophole that is Part B Services. Whispers of a tender due to come out any day now, companies waiting patiently and BANG, before they know it, the Tender has been awarded to John Doe Ltd down the road. How does this happen, where was the tender published and why do some tenders disappear into a black hole of EU Laws?!

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Changes to EU Procurement Rules have raised costs and hampered effective purchasing

A survey by the Local Government Association published this week has revealed.  Although only a small pool, the result is interesting as it makes you wonder if this is a common trend across government. Only 36% of respondents believe that the EU Remedies Directive has led to more efficient and effective procurement practices.

The Remedies Directive aims to strengthen the hand of losing suppliers to challenge contracts under the OJEU. It highlights steps suppliers can take to challenge the award of a public contract. A key change is the remedy of “ineffectiveness” which gives courts the powers to scrap a contract in particular circumstances including,  if it has not been advertised, the “standstill” period has been ignored or if the rules governing a framework agreement have been broken.

Modernisation of the European Public Procurement Market

European map with EU stars

Public procurement accounts for roughly 17% of the European Union’s GDP. In times of tight budgets and economic difficulties in many Member States, public procurement policy must ensure the most efficient use of public funds, with a view to supporting growth and job creation. This would require flexible and user-friendly tools that make transparentEuropean map with EU stars and competitive contract awards as easy as possible for European public authorities and their suppliers. With these objectives in mind, the European Commission has  launched a consultation which will focus on the modernisation of the rules, tools and methods for public procurement. The deadline for responses to the Green Paper is 18 April 2011.

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£100 of John Lewis Vouchers!

As part of a successful year Tenders Direct are offering you £100 of John Lewis vouchers for everyone you recommend to the service!

What does £100 get you in John Lewis?

6 spotty rubber ducks or
1 Panasonic HD Pocket Camcorder or
200 Orange Golf  Tees or
4 Tubes of Yves Saint Laurent Lipstick or
2 Suitcases or
1 Kindle e-reader (+ £11 out of your pocket!)

Now get out your little black book, dig out those old Business Cards, glance through Twitter and help out an old friend you know would benefit! Visit the Tenders Direct website for more information and Terms and Conditions.

Solar Power Tenders – Summer Must be on It’s Way!

Did you know: 1 University, 2 Housing Associations and 3 Councils are installing up to 15k Solar Panels over the next 3 years. And that is just the tenders for one week! Someone out there must be predicting a scorcher this summer!

It is so nice to see the Public Sector looking for alternative means of energy, after all it was in 1997 (Kyoto Protocol) the UK Government promised to reduce greenhouse gases by 12.5% by 2008 to 2012. Last year the UK Government vowed its ‘greenest year ever’ and promised central government would reduce its carbon emissions by 10% within 12 months  60.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gases are created by the UK each year and the Public Sector is only responsible for 3%. That is any easy enough target to reduce, only 5.7 million tonnes!

See tips for suppliers after the jump…..>

The launch of specifications for sustainable procurement and collaborative working offers a powerful strategic weapon for purchasers and suppliers

The launch of specifications for sustainable procurement and collaborative working offers a powerful tool for suppliers and purchasers.   Lord Jones, former director-general of the CBI, believes they should form part of any organisation’s strategic weaponry. UK businesses operate in a highly competitive global environment where agility, efficiency and innovation are the watchwords of success and standardisation weaponry.

Suppliers that comply with standards often have a competitive advantage as buyers will often use compliance to choose between comparable suppliers. Standardisation also promotes interoperability along the supply chain and provides the competitive edge that is necessary for effective worldwide trading.

BS 8903:2010 launched in Summer 2010 set out the principles and framework for sustainable procurement and also provides practical advice on the implementation of the framework practices. It has been developed by participants drawn from many sources including the private sector, pressure groups and the public sector.

BS 1100-1:2010, published October 2010, was developed with input from many industries and its longer term objective is to move to an ISO standard. It provides a strategic framework to improve collaborative relationships and explores partner selection, working together, value creation and relationship maturity.

With an increasing emphasis from buyers on this area, it is the wise supplier that will educate themselves on these standards to give themselves the competitive edge, that Lord Digby refers to.

Getting feedback at the pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) stage

Chart illustrating proportion of open, restricted, competitive dialogue and negotiated tendering procedures used in the UK and Europe

One of the most frequent questions we are asked at Tenders Direct is ‘Am I entitled to feedback if I get knocked out at the PQQ stage?‘ This is a very important question as pre-qualification is used much more often in the UK than in the rest of Europe. The chart below shows the relative proportion that each of the four main tender procedures (Open, Restricted, Competitive Dialogue or Negotiated) was used in the UK and in Europe.

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Sir Philip Green’s Efficiency Review ‘Stating the bleeding obvious’?

Sir Philip Green

This week saw the publication of Sir Philip Green’s ‘Efficiency Review.’ My favourite response, apparently made by a Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman was ‘Most of it, to use Greenspeak, is a statement of the bleeding obvious.’

As Nick Timmins commented in the Financial Times this week:

‘We have been here before. They all found the same. And it must be said, much of their analysis, and some of their prescriptions, were a good deal more profound than Sir Philip’s somewhat glib 33-page PowerPoint-style presentation. Same analysis. Great headlines. Not a lot of detail on how to tackle it all.

The FT hits the nail on the head, we don’t need some non-dom, tax-exile, retail tycoon to identify the problems, the problems are comparatively obvious. Indeed the way to achieve improvements in the way things are currently done that would save billions are also fairly obvious. The hard part is implementing the improvements, in making sure that any initiatives are communicated all the way down to the frontline staff actually doing the purchasing and then monitoring their behaviour to make sure they are following the new policies.

Sir Philip Green


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