As you may have seen in my previous blog, nearly three years since the Cabinet Office began its Green Paper consultation, the Procurement Act 2023 received Royal Assent on 26 October.

This is a major milestone in the Government’s public procurement reform agenda. There is a lot more to come in the next few months before the new regime is expected to go live in October 2024, in the form of subsidiary regulations, statutory guidance and learning and development programmes run by the Cabinet Office.  

Some of you may have noticed that the Cabinet Office ran two related consultations over the summer on the draft implementing regulations that will accompany the Act. The first of these concerned various technical drafting issues and the second referred predominantly to details that will need to be included in the suite of 13 new notices that local authorities will need to become accustomed to publishing under the new regime. These are being introduced in the interests of transparency and cover the whole procurement lifecycle from publishing pipelines of planned procurements and preliminary market engagement notices to publishing details of contract awards, contract modifications and contract terminations. 

We submitted detailed responses to both consultations. Regarding the transparency notices, we raised concerns about the level of detail required in each notice, the duplication of information required across different notices and, most importantly, the increased administrative burden that the new notices regime will place on contracting authorities. 

We wait to see the outcome of the consultations, but we expect that various refinements to the draft regulations will be required. 

Now that the Procurement Act has materialised it is time for local authorities to engage with the detail in the Act and prepare for implementation. Examples of areas that will require attention include:

  • Reflecting the Procurement Act’s requirements in contract procedure rules;
  • considering how to embed the new procurement objectives and principles in internal policies and procedures;
  • revising template procurement documentation to align with the new tender procedures, rules on evaluation and award and the exclusion and debarment regime;
  • revising framework agreement documentation to reflect the changes to the framework tool; and
  • creating internal protocols for the efficient completion of notices.

The Cabinet Office will be providing a centrally-funded learning and development package for contracting authorities with different learning and development options available depending on the extent of expertise required. We will also be rolling out a series of free webinars, workshops and ebriefings to support your transition to the new legal regime in an applied way so please go on to our website and sign up for these and get in touch if you would like to discuss more bespoke implementation support.

For more information, please contact Steven Brunning.