Procurement Bill: The Government publishes new training proposals and guidance

Government Procurement Reform Team seeks to prepare contracting authorities, utilities, concessions, and the defence sector for the advent of the Procurement Act with awareness, preparedness and training tools

31 October 2022

Introduction

On the 21 October 2022, the Government Commercial Function published a Planning and Preparation Checklist and the Cabinet Office added a guide to the Learning and Development package it will be providing. These two new resources, which are summarised below, map out how the Government is planning to support the successful implementation, and provide detailed training in respect of, new regime when the Procurement Bill comes into force.

The much-anticipated Procurement Bill continues its progress through Parliament. Having concluded the committee stage in the House of Lords earlier this week, it is now in the ‘Report Stage’ (the last stage for Lord’s amendments), before it has its Third Reading and then moves to the Commons. It is currently expected to enter into force as early as late 2023.

The Bill aims to improve the way public procurement is regulated in order to create a simpler and more transparent system. Assuming it becomes law, it will lead to a very substantial change from the current regimes for public contracts, utilities, concessions, and defence. It is therefore understandable that the Government Commercial Function has begun the work of preparing all those that will be subject to the new law for the substantial regime change.

The Government has set up a landing page to make materials available to help all ‘contracting authorities’ prepare for the changes. Under the Bill, the term ‘contracting authorities’ is broad and covers all those contracting entities previously subject to the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, Utilities Contracts Regulations 2016, Concession Contracts Regulations 2016 and the Defence and Security Public Contracts Regulations 2011. This includes, for example, private entities subject to the UCR regime by virtue of their “special and exclusive rights”.

Planning and Preparation Checklist

This short checklist provides initial actions in four key areas where the Government proposes early consideration will help contracting authorities to prepare for the reform. These areas are:

  • Processes and policies: ensuring current processes are robust on areas such as pre-market engagement and supplier evaluation/assessment.
  • Systems: establishing compliance with the Government’s transparency agenda as outlined in its ‘Transforming Public Procurement’ document. In particular, the new regime will involve substantial technological changes (for example to support the ‘single digital platform’ which is a pillar of several parts of the new regime).
  • People: taking advantage of the Government’s learning and development offerings, explained below.
  • Transition: maintaining oversight of planned procurement activity and keeping key supply chains informed.

Learning and Development Guide

The Government is clear that behavioural changes will be key to unlocking the benefits of the new regime. The Cabinet Office has produced a high level guide on the learning and development package that will be available to all ‘contracting authorities’ to help them successfully transition to the new system. The package, which will be made available in full at a later date, will comprise:

  • Knowledge drops: a range of short broadcast presentations designed to provide an overview of the changes to the procurement regulations.
  • e-learning: comprising 10 one hour modules for all commercial staff in contracting authorities, designed to cover relevant knowledge and understanding of all the different elements of the new regime.
  • Deep dive webinars: a three-day course involving interactive virtual webinars in which small cohorts can engage with subject matter experts.
  • Communities of Practice events: providing opportunities for practitioners to come together and foster collaborative learning by sharing best practice, innovative approaches, and challenges within the new regime.

Conclusion

Overall, the update provides a high level framework. Substantive details on content which will be on offer to support the implementation of the Bill are yet to come. To stay up-to-date on developments you can join the Government’s mailing list, or visit their ‘Transforming Public Procurement’ landing page, where more details will be published in the future.

This update was authored by John Houlden, Lloyd Nail and Eve Hayzer in Burges Salmon’s Procurement Team. For a range of resources and to subscribe to our Procurement Newsletter, please visit Burges Salmon’s P.A.T.H. (Procurement Act Training & Help) website.

Key contact

John Houlden

John Houlden Partner

  • Head of Public Sector
  • Head of Procurement and State Aid
  • Projects

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