The Public Contracts Regulation 2015 - your questions answered part two
The Public Contracts Regulation 2015 were enacted on 26th February 2015 with the intention of cutting red tape, ensuring consistency, promoting social value and increasing the amount of public sector spend with Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and Voluntary Community and Social Enterprises (VCSEs).
It is a complex set of regulations and therefore this article aims to clarify what the regulations mean for public sector buyers and suppliers. Click here to read the first part of this blog.
For procurement exercises for contracts of value below EU thresholds:
The regulations state that a contracting authority may not include a pre-qualification stage in any procurement, where the value is below the EU threshold for goods and services in order to reduce the number of suppliers to be invited to tender.
Does this mean contracting authorities no longer vet suppliers for contracts under the EU thresholds?
No, if the contract is for a value less than £10,000 for central government or £25,000 for outside central government, there is no stipulation preventing a contracting authority from using a pre-qualification questionnaire or recognising an equivalent question set. However, they must not impose arbitrary minimum requirements that inadvertently bar any suppler, including a new businesses from bidding for the contract.
In addition to this, even when the contract is above these values, Regulation 111 (5) states that contracting authorities may ask suppliers to answer suitability assessment questions as part of the invitation to tender or contract advert to assess whether candidates meet requirements or minimum standards of suitability, capability, legal status or financial standing. The suitability assessment questions need to be relevant to the subject matter of the procurement and proportionate.
There are also a number of other legislative requirements contracting authorities need to meet when undertaking a procurement exercise, for example:
A contracting authority has a duty under health and safety legislation, including the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 to ensure that their suppliers are competent and have compliant health and safety arrangements.
Additionally, under the Equality Act 2010 there is a Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) whereby an authority must have due regard to the desirability of exercising their functions in a way that is designed to reduce the inequalities of outcome which result from socio-economic disadvantage. This inevitably requires an assessment of the capabilities of suppliers throughout the supply chain on how they comply with this legislation.
Furthermore, the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 requires contracting authorities to ‘consider, prior to undertaking the procurement process, how any procured services might improve economic, social and environmental well-being.’ This also can lead to suitability questions being asked of suppliers.
Please note: This is not an exhaustive list. Therefore, even with the procurement of products and/or services to a value less than EU threshold, there is still a significant need to ask appropriate questions about the suitability of suppliers.
How can Exor aid the further reduction of bureaucracy?
Exor consists of a number of levels that are underpinned by a rigorous questionnaire, aligned to government procurement standards including PAS 91. The questionnaire covers:
• Health and Safety
• Diversity and Equality
• Certification and Licencing
ExorRegister enables suppliers to complete our PAS 91 questionnaire and self-certify. Ideal for those who adopt the recommendation of self-certification at PQQ and ITT stages of a tender.
Gold, Silver or Bronze validation levels mean that supplier questionnaires and their supporting information, will be validated by Exor’s in house auditors, giving contracting authorities’ confidence in a supplier’s compliance. As part of the validation service, Exor will undertake a health and safety assessment and a financial assessment to establish a supplier’s Experian Delphi score. The score is used to establish a supplier’s suggested safe trading limit and give confidence in their financial stability to undertake the works they are tendering for. Buyers are therefore able to validate a buyer to a level that is proportionate to the contract value, making it more cost effective for their supplier.
Our new online portal enables contracting authorities to select and update their own supplier preferences for:
• Accreditation Level
• Work Categories.
For procurement where the contract value is less than £10,000 for central government or £25,000 for outside central government, the contracting authority can recognise ExorRegister or Gold, Silver and Bronze validated levels, as an equivalent to their own pre-qualification question set and reduce the need for repeated pre-qualification exercises each time it awards a contract.
Where procurement exercises are for contracts between these values and EU thresholds, ExorRegister or Gold, Silver and Bronze validated levels can be accepted in lieu of asking suitability assessment questions at the point of inviting to tender.
For over EU threshold valued procurement, the PAS 91 aligned Exor Construction Report can be recognised by contracting authorities.
Therefore, ExorRegister or Gold, Silver and Bronze validated levels can be accepted as assurance that a supplier meets a significant part of suitability requirements, for any procurement exercise and ensure that contracting authorities are meeting their procurement duties under a range of legislation.
Post date: 01 Jun 2015
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