Find a Tender Service: the new place to advertise your procurements!
Procurement Policy Note 08/20 and updated Government guidance
The introduction of the Public Procurement (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 (see our earlier insight here) coincides with an update to the Government's guidance on public sector procurement from 1 January 2021, and the publication of PPN 08/20 (Introduction of Find a Tender).
PPN 08/20 applies to all contracting authorities and will have effect from 23:00 GMT on 31 December 2020 for new procurements, when the new Find a Tender Service (FTS) will go live.
Contracting authorities should consider now whether they need to take any action to prepare themselves for when the FTS goes live. Those who work with a third party provider will be able to continue to use those providers, as long as they have successfully completed integration work to publish to FTS (and to that end, the Government has included a list of third party providers who have already completed the integration work, as well as a list of those who expect to have done so ahead of the launch of FTS).
Where contracting authorities publish their notices directly, they will need to have a Supplier Registration Service (SRS) account in order to publish to FTS. Those who are already Contracts Finder users should be enable to publish automatically, but those who are not (and who do not have an SRS account) will need to register as a buyer in order to post notices.
For existing procurements which were commenced before 23:00 GMT on 31 December 2020 and which are ongoing, the requirements to publish notices to the OJEU will continue (including contract notices, contract award notices, contract amendments notice and corrigenda). The requirement to continue to publish to the OJEU applies only to procurements that have been commenced and not yet finalised, and for existing public contracts which require new notices after 31 December 2020 (for example, a modification notice under regulation 72(3) of the PCR), notices should be submitted to FTS.
Whilst not a legal obligation, PPN 08/20 also asks contracting authorities who have existing procurements underway to also publish notices to FTS so that suppliers only need to look in one place for information about opportunities (although for existing procurements where a notice is required to be published to the OJEU, it must be issued for publication before this is published to FTS).
Contracting authorities are also asked to make their suppliers aware that, going forward, they will need to access FTS for contract opportunities in the UK (although these changes will not affect access to other domestic portals. PPN 08/20 is accompanied by a useful FAQs document, as well as a flow chart showing where contracting authorities might need to publish notices during the transition period.
We can advise on preparing your organisation to be as ready as possible for IP Completion Day (and beyond), so please do get in touch if you have concerns around being "match fit" on 1 January 2021!