4 December 2014
The Crown Commercial Service is an executive agency comprised of a merger between the commercial teams from the Cabinet Office and central government departments, as well as the Government Procurement Service.
It procures and manages facilities contracts for the government departments, their arm's-length bodies and organisations across the UK public sector.
Its operations are broken down into a series of framework agreements, enabling the government to act as a single customer. The services are currently delivered by more than 2,600 suppliers, more than half of whom are SME organisations.
What is changing in public sector procurement?
Lord Young's procurement reforms are set out to make it easier for smaller businesses and voluntary sector suppliers to win public sector contracts. The reforms will also simplify processes for procurers.
- Pre Qualification Questionnaires (PPQs) are to be abolished for low-value contracts, with a standardised PQQ for high-value contracts.
- Mandatory 30-day payment terms are to be passed down the supply chain.
- All public sector contracts will be accessible online on the Contracts Finder site.
- Reporting on all new spend with small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) and the voluntary community and social enterprise sector (VCSEs).
By adopting leaner procurement methods, especially spending more time on pre-procurement and by publishing all key documents and criteria at the outset, procurers will gain a better understanding of the market and suppliers can easily determine their own suitability for the opportunity.
What does this mean for SME organisations?
The CCS is helping deliver the government's agenda to support SMEs by making it quicker and less costly to compete for government business.
Its aim is to remove barriers to public procurement for smaller organisations and reduce bidding costs across the whole of the public sector.
By 2015, the government hopes that 25 per cent of central government procurement spending flows to SMEs. The CCS is designing contract sizes and lotting structures in order to get full value from SME suppliers.
The existing payment service is to be strengthened, ensuring that suppliers benefit from the same payment terms that public bodies offer prime contractors.
What will the Contracts Finder do?
As part of new measures ensuring that all public sector procurement opportunities are advertised in the same place, the new Contracts Finder will show all public sector tenders of more than £10,000 in value. It will be automatically updated, with new notices published daily on a website dedicated to European public procurement, Tenders Electronic Daily (TED).
A procurement pipeline of future communications activity has also been published and will be reviewed on a regular basis and updated accordingly.
By registering with Contracts Finder, organisations can set alerts relevant to their business areas, subscribe to RSS feeds of opportunities, find out who has been awarded new contracts, and see a list of buying organisations.
All data on the current Contracts Finder will be archived and it will be available from the national archives. Opportunities that are live at the time of launch will not be transferred, but all opportunities after the launch date will be published on the new system.