What rules and regulations should I be aware of?
As a local authority, there are regulations which the Council has to follow when procuring goods, works and services. It is important that if you wish to contract with Inverclyde Council you are fully aware of the rules and regulations which govern the way we operate.
For instance, we have a legal requirement to comply with the European Union (EU) procurement directives, which govern the way in which public sector procurement is conducted for contracts above specified thresholds and these rules alter the way in which contracts are awarded, based on the value of the purchase.
EU Thresholds are currently £181,302 for Goods & Services, and £4,551,413 for works. Where a contract value for goods and services is below £181,302 a contract may be awarded as soon as the award decision has been made. The council will contact all tenders whether successful or not to advise them of the outcome.
Where a contract however, is valued in excess of the same £181,302 EU threshold, they will require board approval before contract award, and although unsuccessful tenderers will be told of the outcome as in the previous example, the successful tenderer will be notified that, subject to there being no challenge to the award decision, the contract will only be awarded after a period of 10 days.
What are the key changes to EU Directives and do they constitute a major change to public sector procurement practice?
Key changes and refinements to the EU Directives are:
- consolidation of the three old Directives (Services, Supplies and Works) into a single public sector Directive
- more consistent treatment of issues common to the three established procurement procedures (open, restricted and negotiated)
- a requirement to publish the relative importance of contract award criteria
- greater ability to take account of relevant environmental issues in specifications and contract award criteria reflecting European Court of Justice case law
- greater encouragement to use performance specifications and more emphasis on the need to consider equivalence to a specified standard
What are the additions to EU Directives?
Additions to the EU Directives are:
- the introduction of a competitive dialogue procedure to enable purchasers to enter into dialogue with bidders for the purpose of developing and optimising specifications and contract terms and conditions for complex procurements
- explicit provision for framework agreements and central purchasing bodies (consortia) which are very similar to established UK public sector practice
- explicit provision for electronic trading in the form of electronic auctions, dynamic purchasing systems and electronic communications
- mandatory exclusion of candidates convicted by final judgement of money laundering, fraud, corruption or participation in a criminal organisation
Where can I obtain copies of the EU Directives?
Copies of the Directives can be obtained on the European Union website.
Can procurement timescales be shortened where notices and contract documentation are transmitted electronically?
Where notices are compiled and transmitted electronically, timescales for the open procedure receipt of bids and the restricted, competitive dialogue and negotiated (with a contract notice) procedures request to participate may be shortened by 7 days.
A reduction of 5 days to the time limit for receipt of bids in the open and restricted procedures can also be made where unrestricted electronic access to all contract documentation is provided and access details have been provided in the contract notice.
In all cases, the overriding requirement to ensure that timescales are reasonable bearing in mind the complexity of the contract remains.