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Public Procurement Regulations supporting the Coronavirus crisis

Often, Public Procurement Regulations are referred to as rigid and restricting. However, they do ensure that the taxpayer’s contribution is managed appropriately and help to create a fair platform for companies to bid to deliver products and services to the public sector. They also protect the buyer and ensure transparency when procurement exercises take place.

On 18 March, the UK government published guidance in the form of a Procurement Policy Note in relation to Public Procurement Regulations to respond to the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The changes are listed below and effectively enable Procurement specialists to speed up the purchase of urgent products and services at a time when they are most needed. Public sector buyers can now:
  1. Direct award due to extreme urgency.
  2. Direct award due to absence of competition or protection of exclusive rights.
  3. Call off from an existing framework agreement or dynamic purchasing system (DPS).
  4. Call for competition using a standard procedure with accelerated timescales.
  5. Extending or modifying a contract during its term.
This guidance has been a great relief to buying organisations that are traditionally under pressure and will allow urgent projects to progress quickly and without delay, such as the purchase of services to support the development of new healthcare facilities and the procurement of PPE and supplies.

On 1 April 2020 the European Commission also published guidance which offered similar flexibility to European countries to respond to urgent souring needs.  The member states had already been working together on joint procurement exercises for medical supplies, working as a team to ensure the most efficient approach.

At a time when public sector buyers are operating under even more stress than normal, these changes across Europe do provide more flexibility, however, the buyers must ensure that any new suppliers can deliver, and without the usual processes in place there are potentially opportunities for problems to occur.

In times of crisis we sadly also see a small number of opportunists trying to capitalise on the situation, price hikes and reduced quality - we hope that the relaxation of the regulations doesn’t lead to an increase in risk.

Proactis’ sourcing solutions are used by a number of public sector organisations and offer all the functionality to support the new UK guidance and protect against the heightened level of risk.

There are some great examples of how the team has helped public sector organisations across the UK including City of Cardiff Council who achieved over £550,000 annualised sourcing savings and the Scottish and Welsh governments to deliver their national eProcurement strategies.

Proactis can support your public sector sourcing strategy.

Find out how