Tag: Public Contracts Regulations

Timescales under the 2015 Public Contracts Regulations – updated

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The Timescales

Open Procedure

Normally 35 calendar days.
This can be reduced to 30 days if tender responses are submitted electronically.

Or

15 calendar days if a Prior Information Notice (PIN) has been published for at least 35 days and no longer than 12 months.
The purpose of a PIN is to alert potential tenderers of forthcoming contracts which will be advertised. As prior warning of the notice has been given it is understood that a substantial reduction can be granted however to ensure this is not abused the age of the PIN is significant. An exception to this is granted to “social and other specific services” (i.e. those potentially subject to the Light Touch Regime). These types of services can apply this reduction using a PIN that was published over 12 months prior.

Accelerated Open Procedure

15 calendar days.
No further reductions apply.
If this procedure is being used then the contracting authority must specify in the tender itself the reason for the urgency of the procurement.
This is a new procedure type under the 2015 regulations. The justification for accelerating a procedure is discussed in more detail within this blog post.

Restricted Procedure

Competitive Procedure With Negotiation (previously referred to as the “Negotiated Procedure”)

Both of these procedures have the same rules surrounding minimum timescales.

Stage 1 (pre-qualification stage)

30 calendar days.
No reductions are applicable to this stage.

Or

Sub-central contracting authorities can substitute the contract notice (this stage 1) with the publication of a PIN. This PIN must clearly state that it is the call for competition and that the buyer will be proceeding straight to the second stage. Further information on this can be found here.

Stage 2

Normally 30 calendar days.
This can be reduced to 25 calendar days if tender responses are submitted electronically.

Or

10 calendar days if a Prior Information Notice has been published for at least 35 days and no longer than 12 months.
This can only be used where the stage 1 contract notice has been published. The use of a PIN as a call for competition does not qualify the stage 2 for this reduction.
The purpose of a PIN is to alert potential tenderers of forthcoming contracts which will be advertised. If prior warning of the notice has been given it is understood that a substantial reduction can be granted however to ensure this is not abused the age of the PIN is significant. An exception to this is granted to “social and other specific services” (i.e. those potentially subject to the Light Touch Regime). These types of services can apply a reduction using a PIN that was published over 12 months prior.

Or

Sub-central contracting authorities can agree any timescale with bidders and if not agreed with bidders then the buyer can set a time limit to as low as 10 calendar days.

Accelerated Restricted Procedure and Accelerated Open Procedure With Negotiation (previously referred to as the “Accelerated Negotiated Procedure”)

Both of these procedures have the same rules surrounding minimum timescales.

Stage 1 (pre-qualification stage)

15 calendar days.
No further reductions apply.
If this procedure is being used then the contracting authority must specify in the tender itself the reason for the urgency of the procurement. The justification for accelerating a procedure is discussed in more detail within this blog post.

Stage 2

10 calendar days.
No further reductions apply.
The intention to use the accelerated procedure and the justification must have been specified within the first stage advert as mentioned above.

Innovation Partnership

As described in Regulation 31(2), this procurement procedure is intended for use when “an innovative product, service or works that cannot be met by (those) … already available on the market” is required.

Stage 1 (pre-qualification stage)

30 calendar days.
No reductions are applicable to this stage.

Stage 2

Normally 30 calendar days.
This can be reduced to 25 calendar days if tender responses submitted electronically.

Or

10 calendar days if a Prior Information Notice (PIN) has been published for at least 35 days and no longer than 12 months.
The purpose of a PIN is to alert potential tenderers of forthcoming contracts which will be advertised. As prior warning of the notice has been given it is understood that a substantial reduction can be granted however to ensure this is not abused the age of the PIN is significant. An exception to this is granted to “social and other specific services” (i.e. those potentially subject to the Light Touch Regime). These types of services can apply this reduction using a PIN that was published over 12 months prior.

Or

Sub-central contracting authorities, can agree any timescale with bidders and if not agreed with bidders then the buyer can set a time limit to as low as 10 calendar days.

Accelerated Innovation Partnership

Stage 1 (pre-qualification stage)

15 calendar days.
No further reductions apply.
If this procedure is being used then the contracting authority must specify in the tender itself the reason for the urgency of the procurement. The justification for accelerating a procedure is discussed in more detail within this blog post.

Stage 2

10 calendar days.
No further reductions apply.
The intention to use the accelerated procedure and the justification must have been specified within the first stage advert as mentioned above.

Competitive Dialogue

Stage 1 (pre-qualification stage)

30 calendar days.
No further reductions apply.

Subsequent Dialogue Stages

There are no explicit rules regarding the time limits for these stages.

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

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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: Continue reading “How do you challenge a buyer when you feel the procurement is flawed?”

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”

‘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’”

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