30 July 2009 | Paul Snell
The idea that EU procurement rules and the government's Compact with the third sector are incompatible is "simply wrong", according to new guidance.
The Compact is a voluntary agreement that provides a framework for the public sector to work with the third sector more effectively. It encourages open discussion and closer working between the two parties.
Buyers in the public sector have been criticised for following procurement rules too strictly, and third sector groups claimed the Compact would be more effective if purchasers followed the rules less stringently.
But guidance compiled by law firm Bates, Well & Braithwaite, published yesterday by the Commission for the Compact, said there is no need for this, as the two are already compatible.
"We have cases where public commissioners claim EU procurement rules preclude Compact compliance," said Oliver Reichardt, head of the Compact team at membership group Compact Voice. "This guide shows this is simply wrong. Government now needs to ensure this message gets to all public commissioners to stop this myth once and for all."
The guide advises how to engage with third sector groups before the procurement process starts, how to ensure equal treatment between potential providers and how to assess bids in line with the law and the compact.
Sir Bert Massie, commissioner for the Compact, said: "In this complex area, misunderstandings do occur. This practical guide acts as a useful resource to clarify areas of confusion around Compact principles and Procurement law."