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Welcome to the inaugural edition of Procurement in Profile.

We are currently experiencing a groundswell of interest in public procurement: procurement professionals already know that "procurement impacts everything" - but whether it is a review of covid-response procurements by the Good Law Project, criticisms of procurement practices that create a "race to the bottom" in the built environment sector, the collapse of Carillion or the award of a £70 billion Net Zero framework agreement to a Cornish SME – procurement is now rarely off the national press pages.

This increased profile is taking place at a time when the UK Government has taken the post-Brexit opportunity to reform our public procurement legislation: transplanting it from its European landscape and rooting it firmly in UK-orientated policy. Whether such reforms are truly transformative remains to be seen. Certainly, our commitments under the World Trade Organisation's Agreement on Government Procurement and the UK-EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement has dampened the flames of the promised "bonfire of red tape" and hopes for a truly transformative procurement experience ride firmly on the successful implementation of the Government's ambitious learning and development programme for contracting authorities.

Further, we await sight of the promised secondary legislation dealing with thresholds and the day-to-day details of the Government's new transparency regime; further details of the Procurement Review Unit (who is going to sit on the panel? how will it exercise its oversight responsibilities?) and guidance on all aspects of the new legislation. It is therefore essential that contracting authorities and service providers to the public sector alike keep up-to-speed with all relevant procurement developments.

Always at the forefront of fresh thinking on procurement issues, we have therefore taken the opportunity to gather together our recent and relevant articles and snippets of information that we hope you will find interesting and thought-provoking in the public procurement space. In this inaugural edition of Procurement in Profile, we have considered some of the most recent procurement developments in more detail. Please click on the links below to view the articles in December's edition.

List of articles: 

Encouraging competition and opening up procurement to SMEs – why wait for the Procurement Act?

This spotlight article focuses on four features of current procurement practice where competition can be opened up for the benefit of SMEs without changing the legal framework.

Flexibility and Transparency under the Procurement Bill

In its Green Paper on transforming public procurement, the Government hailed the impending procurement reforms as an opportunity to depart from the existing procurement regime (often considered bureaucratic and unwieldy) and to introduce greater flexibility into the procurement process.

Landmark judgement awards the UK's first ever contract shortening order

In July, the High Court handed down a landmark judgement in Consultant Connect Limited v NHS Bath and North East Somerset and others [2022] EWHC 2037 (TCC) to make the first ever contract shortening order of its kind in the UK.

Webinar: Procurement update

The outlook for the UK economy continues to make grim reading following the Chancellor's Autumn Statement. The multiple challenges of a recession (now confirmed and likely to continue throughout 2023), inflation and interest rate rises will put the squeeze on public sector spending for the foreseeable future. Join us for our procurement update webinar as we explore how good practice in procurement conduct can continue to provide best value when spending public money.