I am not into computer games - they passed me by, and so I can never get excited by the latest edition of the most popular virtual experiences to arrive on our desktops (you see, I don't even know what the right language is in such matters).
But, when it comes to a UK Government Green Paper on public procurement, even after a full day's work, I can't resist but settle down with a locally sourced ale (Butty Bach) and skim through the 82 pages of pronouncement issued by HM Government. And so, it came to pass that, on the day of publication, I absorbed as much as I could of the exciting plans in store (and, yes, many of them are exciting!).
Not only are we to have Find a Tender (FAT) but we are to be treated to Most Advantageous Tender (MAT). I just can't wait for the next instalment to find out what "SAT" and CAT" will stand for. At least I will no longer be using that "MEAT is murder" slide in my talks.
Plans to just have three procedures (including a new competitive flexible procedure) or will there really be four or five (including a dynamic purchasing system plus - such high octane stuff) all make good sense, but the demise of a Light Touch regime for social-based services with its higher procurement threshold may not be so helpful in connection with people-orientated welfare.
The abolition of debrief letters because contracting authorities are going to be geared up to demonstrating greater accessible transparency just does not ring true, but, then, you have gathered that I am not really a digital guy.
For me, the interesting stuff is around what is not in the Green Paper. Here are three gaps I noticed that will need filling:
- on the back-to-basics front, it would be helpful to have greater clarity on just what we mean by works, services and goods. I am assuming we will use the same or a similar system of categorisation, but will the Government use this opportunity to describe exactly when will a land development deal be a public works contract (Roanne onwards)?
- it was good to see some thinking around contracts awarded on a single tender basis (currently Regulation 32 PCR 2015) and concerning modified contracts (as in Regulation 72 PCR 2015). But my other favourite regulation (12 PCR2015) does not get a mention and so we need clarity on intra-group provision of services and works (Teckal onwards);
- it is unclear what exactly will be UK-wide with our single market within this Kingdom and what will be different in each nation, especially with Northern Ireland potentially having a different relationship to the EU for trading.
So as well as responding to the UK Government's carefully selected questions in its consultation (to run until 10 March 2021) a good game to play is "what's missing?". It's answers to that question that could make all the difference to a new workable public procurement regime post-Brexit.
Plans will cut red tape, reduce bureaucracy and help unleash wider social benefits from public money spent on procurement