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The Public Procurement (Agreement on Government Procurement) (Amendment) (No.2) Regulations 2021 (the GPA Regulations) came into force on Monday 16 August 2021.

This made various amendments to the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (the PCR), the Concession Contracts Regulations 2016 (the CCR) and the Utilities Contracts Regulations 2016 (the UCR) (collectively the Procurement Regulations) for the purpose of giving effect to the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement (the GPA) (which the UK acceded to in its own right as of 1 January 2021).

The GPA Regulations also amend the equivalent Procurement Regulations in Scotland to make the same changes.

The GPA Regulations make amendments to the definition of the GPA in each of the Procurement Regulations so as to refer to the UK's coverage schedules under the GPA which were updated on 15 May 2021.

Additionally, the GPA Regulations replace Schedule 1 to the PCR (Central Government Authorities) with an updated list of the authorities that are central government authorities for the purposes of the procurement rules.

The Schedule is now in two parts:

  1. Part 1 covers GPA central government authorities and reflects the list of Central Government Entities under Annex 1 of the UK's coverage schedules to the GPA; and
  2. Part 2 sets out contracting authorities who are considered to be central government authorities for the purposes of the PCR, even though they are not included within the meaning of a Central Government Entity under Annex 1 of the UK's coverage schedules to the GPA.
On the list itself, the GPA Regulations make various updates to names of government departments to reflect certain organisational restructures (for example, the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills is now the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy).

Additionally, the list adds certain organisations which were previously considered sub-central contracting authorities (for example, NHS Foundation Trusts, the NHS Commissioning Board (known as NHS England) and Highways England). It would therefore be prudent for contracting authorities to confirm whether they now fall within the definition of a Central Government Authority, as this will have an impact on the threshold which will apply to procurements for services and supplies (the threshold is currently £189,330 net of VAT for sub-central authorities, but only £122,976 net of VAT for contracting authorities listed as central government authorities in Schedule 1 to the PCR).