Back in 2019 and early 2020 Brexit talk was everywhere. However, for obvious reasons the coverage of Brexit has not been so overwhelming in recent months. We thought it worth a brief re-cap on the impacts of Brexit on public sector procurement and tendering, so that you can ensure that your business is well positioned to find tenders from 1st January 2021. We also note in this blog, how the impact of the pandemic may impact on UK tendering post Brexit.
The way in which the UK’s public sector authorities undertake EU level tendering, often referred to as OJEU tenders, will not fundamentally change immediately after the end of the transition period (31st December 2020). This is due to the fact that the EU’s Public Procurement Directives are transposed into UK law as the Public Contract Regulations 2015. At the time of writing we are not aware of any consultation or date upon which these regulations are due to be reviewed.
What this means for suppliers tendering into the public sector is that when we exit the EU (after the current transition period), contract notices will be posted in a different way, but the procurement process itself will remain largely unchanged (until the full regulations themselves are reviewed).
The impact of Covid on procurement post-Brexit
However, what we may find is a slightly different use of the current regulations to what we have been used to in recent years. In the wake of economic recovery post Covid-19, Government is considering how the regulations can be used to support the restart of our economy. Further and wider use of Dynamic Purchasing Systems (DPS) is likely, as this offers a route for buyers and suppliers to engage widely, in compliance with regulations, whilst also enabling new suppliers to join the DPS at any time. Government may also consider mandating the use of frameworks across the wider public sector, this currently impacts central government bodies.
As noted, post Brexit procurement reviews will be influenced by the requirement to support the UK economy post-Covid. Review topics may potentially include:
- the shortening of procurement timescales – enabling buyers and suppliers to more quickly engage;
- the shortening of evaluation periods by buyers, in balance with shorter tender timescales, so that the buyer and the supplier share the commitment to more expedient procurement processes.In our view this would benefit suppliers, as currently some tender processes remain in the evaluation stages for many months.
The procurement thresholds are unlikely to change drastically, as these are influenced by the World Trade Organisation Government Procurement Agreement thresholds.
We anticipate that greater supply chain transparency and due diligence will be undertaken (in the wake of some supply chains failing during Covid). This is likely to result in suppliers having to include more detail on their supply chain and tiers within it, in their tender responses.
Tender Notices post-Brexit
Government has previously referred to launching a “Find A Tender” service, that will replicate the e-notification service TED (Tenders European Daily) which publishes OJEU notices. At present lower value contract notices are published by public sector authorities on Contracts Finder (England), Sell2Wales (Wales) and Public Contracts Scotland (Scotland) and high value notices (for contracts greater in value than the OJEU threshold) are published to OJEU. It is our understanding that the Find A Tender service will go live on 31st December 2020 at 23:00. There have been reports that the Find A Tender service may launch through Contracts Finder, therefore from January 2021 it is possible that all notices in England (high and low value) will be published to Contracts Finder. We are awaiting further information and updates on the Find A Tender service and will share them onwards when they are received.
Contracts Finder is a free to register site, to which you can save your tender alert profile, so that you can receive notifications of opportunities suitable for your business.
You can find more detailed information, as published by the Government, here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/public-sector-procurement-after-a-no-deal-brexit
To prepare your organisation for tendering post Brexit, we recommend that you take the following steps:
- ensure that you are fully registered with Contracts Finder (including their notifications service)
- be prepared to write in detail about your supply chain and your management of your supply chain
- research and understand Dynamic Purchasing Systems (check out our blog) – look for DPS’s that are available for you to join now – we anticipate that they will be used more and more in the coming months
- be alert for updates regarding the “Find A Tender” service and be ready to register with it, once it goes live
- maintain your alerts and notifications with OJEU if you want to continue to receive tender notifications of opportunities from EU member states
- have your bid library of tender documents ready and up to date, if timescales are shortened a well prepared bid library will save you valuable time
Contact us for further advice on tender notifications, understanding Dynamic Purchasing Systems or any other procurement or tender query.