UK government launches consultation on implementation of EU procurement reform

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
22 September 2014

The UK government has launched a public consultation concerning the implementation of the revised EU directives on public procurement.

The Cabinet Office is seeking comments on the UK’s draft regulations to ascertain if they meet policy requirements, and whether they do so in the best way.

The current consultation covers the public sector directive, along with provisions that are applicable across all three directives, while further consultations will focus on matters unique to the utilities directive and the concessions directive.

The directives include measures to cut red tape, support SMEs and increase social value in public procurement.

Concerning the division of contracts into lots to encourage SME participation, the government has opted not to make this an obligation, and instead it will be up to contracting authorities to decide to do this. But if they do not, they will be “required to explain their decision in the procurement documents or report”. Bids for combined lots will also be allowed.

Regarding termination of contracts, the government said contracting authorities must include a condition in contracts allowing them to terminate if the contract has been subject to a “substantial modification”, where it is later discovered a contractor should have been excluded on mandatory exclusion grounds, and where the European Court of Justice declares a “serious infringement by the contracting authority of its obligations”.

In terms of standstill periods and remedies, the government intends to make no changes from existing rules and they have “simply been moved from the existing UK procurement regulations into the proposed new regulations” with “some minor drafting or technical improvements”.

When it comes to ensuring suppliers comply with social, environmental and labour laws, the government said a “compelling case for regulation has not emerged” and “administrative measures are appropriate”, such as “guidance making it policy to mirror these obligations in contract clauses”.

The government has also decided not to implement a procedure policy that would require contract award notices for call-offs to be sent on a quarterly basis to OJEU “because of the additional administrative burden involved”.

The UK has two years to implement the directives after they came into force in April.

The consultation closes on 17 October, 2014.

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