This article covers the fundamentals of UK Government Public Procurement Regulations. It is intended as a quick guide for businesses that wish to provide goods or services to the UK Government or associated bodies.
What Underpins Public Procurement?
Quite simply, goods and services that are procured from public funds must:
- Fulfil all legal requirements
- Represent good value for money
- Be open to competition to achieve the above
Simplifying Public Spending
The UK established the Public Contracts Regulation in 2015 to simplify the process of procurement. This means that there are several procedures that must be followed that are less stringent than before.
It also enables the segregation of certain public functions, such as defence and security so procurement can be efficient while serving the key tenants of being legal, fair and value for money.
Crown Commercial Service (CCS) Public Procurement Regulations
This service is a centralised government marketplace that enables departments to procure from pre-registered public suppliers. Furthermore, departments get quotes directly through the marketplace.
The CCS is known as a “self-service” market and it also runs eAuctions in which, for example, suppliers can bid against each other to deliver goods or services to public bodies.
However, all the CCS services have managed cost controls for certain procurement classifications such as consultancy, technology, property and so forth.
How Do I Become a CCS Supplier and what is Contracts Finder?
The government has produced a useful SME guide for small to medium businesses looking to become a CCS supplier.
Essentially you will need to bid for a public sector contract through a formal tender process and be successful to join the CCS.
Subsequently, after this is completed, you can register with the CCS to continue to take part in tender opportunities.
The best place to start is at the Government Contracts Finder
It is worth noting that Central Government must publish all contracts that are over £10k for central government bodies. It is £25k in value for other public sector bodies to enable fair competition in the UK marketplace.
Another useful feature of the contract’s finder is that if your company has won an opportunity, you can use the platform to subsequently advertise for subcontractors too.
As a result, this is especially useful for the construction industry where there are ebbs and flows of labour shortages. More information can be found in the Contracts Finder User Guide.
Applying for Technology Related Contracts in Public Procurement Regulations
There are several limitations on UK Government spending and procurement for technology. The GDS (Government Digital Service) has the right to approve or reject the following:
- For Procurement over £100k.
- Procurement over £1m for shared service centres (consolidated centralised functions).
- For Procurement over £5m for areas not covered.
Also, there are full hard limits that can never be breached unless in exceptional circumstances (for example in the COVID-19 pandemic):
- No digital contract should be over £100m in value.
- Automatic contract extensions are not allowed.
Also, all digital services must follow the “Cloud First” policy and new hosting contracts should never last for more than 2 years.
Also, when providing technical services – companies must have Cyber Essentials accreditation and demonstrate sufficient technical security controls to minimise the likelihood of data breaches and so forth.