15th Dec 2016

Following reports from suppliers on public sector procurements still being conducted in ways that result in disproportionate or inappropriate risk transfer between buyers and suppliers, Crown Commercial Services have recently issued a Procurement Policy Note addressing how to avoid onerous practices in procurement and contracting.

Whilst colleges, academies and schools are not ‘in scope’ organisations for the purposes of this policy note, the advice given is useful to all procurement activities.

From the guidance discussed in the policy note, in particular we would recommend conducting effective pre-market engagement prior to any significant purchase. Talking to suppliers in the market will help identify any potential innovative solutions to meet your requirements, give you a good idea of the likely costs and time scales involved which will help you plan the procurement and ensure there are no budget surprises at the end of the process. It can help get ideas to inform your specification and giving suppliers advanced notice can improve the number and quality of bids received (especially if your time frames are tight.)

There are some issues to be aware of, particularly when conducting pre-market engagement for high value tenders and you need to be careful not to use a particular supplier’s specification that may result in discrimination either directly or indirectly in favour of or against any supplier, product, process or source.

More guidance on pre-market engagement and how to go about this is available on Further Education Library of Procurement.