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Public procurement legislation and policy review: September- November 2014

Our fourth post of 2014 on the key developments in public procurement legislation and policy that lawyers need to be aware of covers the period from September to November 2014. It does not consider case law as this is covered in our monthly public procurement case digest. For a summary of the latest cases, see Public procurement case digest (October 2014).

Subscribers to Practical Law can keep up to date with the latest public procurement developments by signing up to the Practical Law Public Sector email update (available weekly) or the Practical Law Competition updates (available daily). Updates are also tweeted on the @PracLawProcure Twitter feed.

Draft Public Contracts Regulations 2015

On 19 September 2014, the Cabinet Office published a consultation on the draft Public Contracts Regulations 2015. The eagerly anticipated draft regulations will implement Directive 2014/24/EU which came into force on 17 April 2014.

The draft regulations make several significant changes to public procurement in the UK. For more information on the changes, see Practice note, Reform of the EU public procurement regime.

The government aims to bring the regulations into force in spring 2015.

Consultations on regulations implementing the new directives on utilities procurement (Directive 2014/25/EU) and concession contracts (Directive 2014/23/EU) are expected to be published in spring 2015.

Consultation on improving access to public contracts to SMEs

On 16 October 2014, the Cabinet Office issued a consultation on proposed reforms to public procurement in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill.

The Bill contains a power for the Minister for the Cabinet Office or the Secretary of State to make regulations to impose duties on contracting authorities in relation to the exercise of their procurement functions. The consultation seeks views on how the power in the Bill could be used to require contracting authorities to:

  • Run an efficient and timely procurement process.
  • Make available, free of charge, information, documents and processes necessary for any potential supplier to bid for a contract opportunity.
  • Accept electronic invoices.

 NAO reports on contract management in central government

On 4 September 2014, the National Audit Office (NAO) published a report, Transforming government’s contract management. The NAO recommended the government took steps to improve its procurement and contract management practices including:

  • Ensuring that responsibility for the delivery of contracted-out services properly rests with the contractors.
  • Establishing proper systems and processes to oversee contracts.
  • Making the most of departments’ commercially experienced staff; giving them the right skills and an enhanced role.

 FOIA code to be updated

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) announced measures to extend the scope of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) by:

  • Issuing an updated code of practice under section 45 of FOIA promoting openness about contracts with private companies and specifying stricter time limits for applying the public interest test and for reviewing FOIA decisions.
  • Extending FOIA to cover more regulatory bodies, including the Housing Ombudsman, the Advertising Standards Authority, the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Panel on Takeover and Mergers.
  • Publishing a consultation on extending FOIA to cover private companies with “effective monopolies” over public services, such as the National Grid, water and energy companies and some housing associations.

 DfE publishes school buying guidance

On 7 November 2014, the Department for Education published non-statutory guidance for schools on buying collaboratively to achieve efficiencies.

MOD publishes draft Single Source Contract Regulations

On 30 October 2014, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) published the draft Single Source Contract Regulations. The regulations are made under the Defence Reform Act 2014 and will apply to contracts entered into by the Secretary of State for Defence for goods, works or services for defence purposes where the award of the contract (and sub-contract) is not the result of a competitive process.

The draft Regulations set out the framework for qualifying defence contracts and qualifying sub-contracts. The framework applies to contracts with a value of over £5 million (or £500 million if entered into before 31 March 2015).

Cabinet Office announces mandatory use of Cyber Essentials security controls

On 25 September 2014, the Cabinet Office published Procurement Policy Note 09/14, which made its Cyber Essentials security controls mandatory for central government contracts advertised after 1 October 2014 that involve the handling of personal information or the provision of certain technical products and services.

New procurement content

We have published the following new maintained materials:

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