Post Brexit Procurement – What Will Change?
With the Brexit transition period officially behind us, it’s worth considering the potential impacts of Brexit on Government procurement into the future.
While no one can guarantee what will happen, it is expected that demands for a commitment to better processes with greater transparency will continue.
There are two international procurement arrangements in place for the UK, and one domestic procurement review in progress, that provide every opportunity to improve future procurement.
Our article from December 2020 discussed the launch of Cabinet Office plans, lead by minister Lord Agnew to review procurement. Seizing the UK’s exit from the EU as “an historic opportunity to overhaul outdated public procurement”, the review process began with the ‘Transforming Public Procurement’ Green Paper.
The Green Paper acknowledges the frailties of the current model, with a range of changes proposed. These changes include the simplifying the procurement assessment process, levelling the playing field for SMEs by creating a centralised procurement database, inclusion of supplier past performance metrics and new social value metrics in procurement bid assessment, including carbon neutrality.
Importantly, any changes to procurement practises implemented as a result of this Green Paper will need to be in line with the GPA agreement, of which the UK is now a member in its own right.
Back in October we discussed the UK becoming a stand alone member of the World Trade Organisations (WTO) Government Procurement Agreement.(GPA)
The GPA Agreement involves most of the world’s major economies and all members commit to guaranteeing fair and transparent public procurement, through treating suppliers from other GPA countries in the same manner as domestic suppliers for all included procurement contracts.
Now the UK has left the EU umbrella membership, it must comply with these standards in its own right. This means ensuring UK suppliers have access to GPA opportunities and equally that GPA suppliers will continue to have access to UK procurement contracts.
On the 24th December 2020, as the end of Brexit transition period loomed, the UK and EU negotiated the EU-UK Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) under the European Union (Future Relationship) Act 2020.
Under the TCA, both the UK and EU commit to offering increased access to each other’s procurement markets and to enhance the transparency of public procurement procedures.
The TCA builds on the GPA, meaning EU and UK suppliers now have access to each other’s procurement in gas, telecommunications, hospitality, real estate and education sectors. Healthcare and defence contracts are currently outside the scope of the TCA.
The TCA includes a range of additional rules. It’s requires that entities conduct procurement by electronic means as far as possible, and that similar social metrics discussed in the Green Paper be implemented, such as environmental, labour and other social considerations.
It’s too soon to call, but all signs point to plenty of opportunity for a better government procurement future. We’ll keep a close eye on developments.
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