Cabinet Office updates mandatory Selection Questionnaire for public procurements – PPN 03/23
With effect from 1 April 2023, all contracting authorities that carry out procurements under the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 must use the updated Selection Questionnaire published under Procurement Policy Note 03/23. Alongside the revised SQ, the Cabinet Office has also updated its guidance on how it should be used. We take a look at the key features of PPN 03/23.
While Procurement Policy Note (PPN) 03/23 replaces PPN 08/16, the overall approach to the selection stage of any procurement remains the same. The standard selection questions still ask potential suppliers to self-declare their status against the exclusion grounds and provide preliminary evidence of their financial standing, technical ability and professional qualification. The standard Selection Questionnaire (SQ) contained in PPN 03/23 is structured in 3 parts:
- Part 1 - covers basic information about the potential supplier;
- Part 2 - constitutes self-declarations of whether (or not) any of the exclusion grounds apply.
- Part 3 - asks for evidence and self-declarations of economic and financial standing and for self-declarations relating to technical and professional ability to deliver that particular contract.
While the use of a standard form SQ will be familiar, PPN 03/23 brings in updated guidance as well as a revised set of SQ questions. Contracting authorities should note the following in particular:
- Clarity on changes contracting authorities can make to the wording of questions. No deletions or additions can be made to the questions marked as mandatory in Part 1 and Part 2. Contracting authorities may deviate from the supplier selection questions in Part 3, but must report any deviations to email@example.com (unless they are (i) additional questions that are specific to that procurement or (ii) changes to the wording to fit the style and format of a contracting authority's e-procurement system).
- Clarity on what is meant by “relying on another organisation” to meet the selection criteria. An organisation is "relied on" for the purposes of the SQ if the potential supplier is relying on the technical and professional ability and/or the economic and financial standing of the organisation to meet the selection criteria in Part 3.
- Clarity for contracting authorities on seeking information from groups of suppliers. Where a group/consortium are responding to a tender, each member of the group should complete their own Part 1 and 2 of the SQ. Contracting authorities can specify whether Part 3 should be a composite response by all members of the group or whether each member should return its own Part 3.
- Amendments to financial questions and checks. In particular there is new clarity that if a supplier does not itself meet minimum financial requirements, contracting authorities can allow them to rely on the financial standing of a group or parent company or fellow consortium member if they are willing to provide appropriate security or support, for example in the form of a parent company guarantee.
- Introduction of questions and guidance following recent other PPNs and industry publications:
- Health and safety questions following updates from the Health and Safety Executive;
- Supply chain and modern slavery questions – PPN 02/23;
- Data protection questions – PPN 03/22;
- Reducing carbon emissions questions – PP06/21
- Updated payment questions – PPN 08/21
- E-procurement platforms. To support the move to e-procurement platforms, the format of the SQ template has been revised. PPN03/23 provides both a list of standard selection questions and an SQ template.
All contracting authorities need to review and update their template SQs in line with PPN 03/23 – and the clock is ticking down as 1 April fast approaches.