Procurement Bill [HL]

Written evidence submitted by Chris Smith, e-Procurement and Procurement Consultant, CA Procurement Consulting Ltd (PB09)

To the Public Bill Committee

House of Commons

Palace of Westminster



Re: Procurement Bill: call for evidence

The latest version of the Bill relies heavily on secondary legislation, which has not yet been published, and I am concerned that the level of compliance of Contracting Authorities with transparency regulations and policies will not be improved by this Bill as it is currently worded.

Currently, there remains a significant gap in transparency and the data captured in the existing online systems [1] that not only undermine accountability and scrutiny of the use of public funds but also means that the government cannot rely on obtaining accurate data from these systems, for example, on SME participation. The same goes for the private sector.

Contracting Authorities are not always meeting the legal and policy requirements to publish Contract Notices and Contract Award Notices on Contracts Finder and Find a Tender Service including when they use Digital Marketplace to procure software products and services worth many millions of pounds.

Also, multi-billion pound frameworks are established by Crown Commercial Services and the NHS. There is a similar requirement to publish Contract Award Notices on Contracts Finder and Find a Tender Service when a contract is placed under these frameworks. As not all Contracting Authorities comply with this requirement, transparency is compromised, and the private sector cannot get accurate market intelligence for a significant proportion of public procurement spending under frameworks.

For this reason, it would be sensible to consider strengthening the provisions in the Bill concerning the publication of procurement notices in Part 8 Information and Notices: General Provision or Part 10 Procurement Oversight. Contracting Authorities could then better understand their legal obligations to publish accurate procurement notices at each stage of the procurement cycle within the periods set out in the Bill and for all procurement that is above the threshold for publication on the new online system.

If the proposed introduction of a single online platform means that the existing Contracts Finder and Finder Tender Service systems will be combined into a single notification portal, this should dramatically reduce the level of duplication which exists at the moment and which requires, in many cases, Contracting Authorities to produce two notices for each procurement exercise in two different formats with different data. This productivity gain should in part be used to improve the use by Contracting Authorities of the new online system and to better comply with their legal and policy responsibilities.

Whilst outside the scope of the Bill, it will be critical that there is a transparency change management programme that not only manages the transition to the new online system but also delivers a change in government mindset. Government and Contracting Authorities should become much more proactively transparent in the publishing of procurement information and data, which apart from improving the level of accountability, should improve their engagement with the private sector and increase competition for government contracts and opportunities for SMEs.

Yours faithfully

Chris Smith

e-Procurement and Procurement Consultant

CA Procurement Consulting Ltd

24 January 2023

[1] Contracts Finder and Find a Tender Service


Prepared 31st January 2023