Government publishes second tranche of official Procurement Act guidance 

April, 2024 - Shoosmiths LLP

On 12 April, the Cabinet Office published the second tranche of its official guidance documents on the Procurement Act.

The guidance documents cover:

  • The National Procurement Policy statement (‘NPPS’);
  • Technical Specifications;
  • Pipeline Notices;
  • Planned Procurement Notices; and
  • Preliminary Market Engagement.

Each guidance document clearly sets out the key points and the policy intent in respect of these discrete parts of the Procurement Act. Of immediate note:

  • Section 13 of the Procurement Act requires contracting authorities to have regard to the NPPS and contracting authorities should document their thinking on which NPPS policies an individual procurement can contribute to and how this will be addressed, as well as note why any disregarded policies are irrelevant or inappropriate or would be disproportionate to consider. Non-compliance by contracting authorities will not be a basis for a procurement challenge but may be subject to judicial review.
  • Section 56 of the Procurement Act sets out the main provisions on technical specifications. The policy that sits behind these provisions can be summarised (as detailed in the guidance) as the aim to ensure diverse competition, that suppliers are treated equally and treaty state suppliers are not discriminated against.
  • Section 93 of the Procurement Act mandates that where a contracting authority considers it will pay more than £100m under relevant contracts in the coming financial year, it will publish a Pipeline Notice detailing each contract with a value of over £2m that it expects to be tendered or directly awarded. Pipeline Notices are expected to benefit SMEs, voluntary, community and social enterprises in particular (and to promote increased diversity and competition in the market), by providing those entities with adequate time to plan for future work.
  • Planned Procurement Notices set out that a contracting authority intends to publish a tender notice and are similar to Pipeline Notices, but are optional and go further than Pipeline Notices in providing as much advance information as possible to the market.
  • Contracting authorities can use preliminary market engagement to increase competition and, if doing so, in most circumstances will publish a preliminary market engagement notice.

Read the full set of guidance documents here.


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