The UK government has promised to deliver a “step-change in transparency and openness” with the new Procurement Bill.
Public authorities, including the NHS, will have to publish notices of direct awards, while publication requirements will be extended to cover planning, termination, and contract performance.
A single central platform for contract data will be established to “give everyone access to procurement information”.
The government said the Bill would embed “transparency throughout the commercial lifecycle so that the spending of taxpayers’ money can be properly scrutinised”.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, minister for Brexit opportunities and government efficiency, said: “Now that we’re out [of the EU] we can create a simpler and more transparent system that promotes competition among businesses and reassures taxpayers that every penny of their money is well-spent.”
A timetable for the bill has not been set – it was also announced in last year’s Queen’s Speech – but authorities will be given six months’ notice of when changes are made.
A single digital platform will be created for suppliers to register their details, which can be used for all bids, while the transparency platform will enable potential bidders to see all opportunities in one place.
“This will accelerate spending with SMEs, who will also benefit from prompt payment terms on a much broader range of contracts,” the government said.
Buyers will be given the ability to reserve contracts below the thresholds set out in the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) for UK suppliers, SMEs and social enterprises.
A debarment register will also be set up, accessible to all public sector organisations, which will list companies who should be excluded from contracts.
Meanwhile, the seven procurement procedures in the EU regulations will be replaced by three, expected to be:
a) a new “flexible competitive procedure” that “gives buyers freedom to negotiate and innovate to get the best from the private, charity and social enterprise sectors”;
b) an “open procedure” for simpler “off-the-shelf” competitions; and
c) a “limited tendering procedure” that can be used in certain circumstances such as extreme urgency.
Peter Cudlip, head of public and social sector at advisory firm Mazars, said: “In the context of Brexit, this Bill provides the opportunity to consolidate over 300 EU regulations and aims to make procurement more innovative and agile for the private sector.
“It therefore has implications for public sector organisations in how they procure services including the review and update to their own procedures, training of staff involved in procurement alongside communicating and training prospective suppliers engaged on any new rules, particularly with changes outlined in the green paper.”