Government Response to the Transforming Public Procurement Green Paper consultation published
On 6 December 2021, nearly a year after the publication of the Green Paper itself, Government has published its response to its consultation regarding the future of procurement law post-Brexit. It is no surprise that the Government Response was delayed: it received over 600 responses (previous and similar consultations on procurement law have prompted no more than approx. 250 responses) and the Response itself highlights the diverse range of stakeholders and interested parties with which Cabinet Office has engaged.
The Response also clearly shows that the Cabinet Office has listened to its consultees and some significant changes have been made to its original proposals. On this point, the Response seems to remain a work in progress, particularly around Chapter 7 and its enforcement proposals, and a lot of the detail (which is where the devil usually is…) will only become clear once secondary legislation and Guidance (which needs to be substantial, comprehensive and easy to apply) is published.
As you will recall, the Green Paper set out the Government's proposals for shaping the future of public procurement legislation. It promises that the reforms would, "speed up and simplify procurement processes, prioritize value for money and unleash opportunities for innovation in public service delivery … and for small businesses, charities and social enterprises to innovate in public service delivery". The Response reiterates these goals, and also notes that the reforms will "generate social value". This is mildly of note, given that reference to "social value" by name was absent from the Green Paper as a stated aim of the reforms (although the substance was there in the MAT versus MEAT debate). Its absence may be explained by the prior publication of PPN 06/20 setting out the Social Value Model to be adopted by Central Government, but this oversight has been remedied with social value being mentioned in each of the first three paragraphs of the Response.
In terms of timing, the Response indicates that the Procurement Reform Bill will be brought forward when Parliamentary time allows, but it is expected to be in 2022, with secondary legislation and Guidance following in 2023 "at the earliest". The Government has indicated that they will leave a six month "go live" period once the legislation has been concluded, so that contracting authorities can get their procurement houses in order, undertake learning and development programmes and ensure effective implementation of the new rules.
So, what is noteworthy? Click here to find out as we go through the Response chapter-by-chapter.