Published in June 2021, PPN 07/21 is the latest Procurement Policy Note (PPN) to be published by the cabinet office with the full title, ‘Update to legal and police requirements to publish procurement information on Contracts Finder’. PPNs provide guidance on best practice for public sector procurement and staying up to date with the changes is an important part of understanding the tendering process and what can, and can’t, happen.
PPN 07/21 is guidance for public bodies, clarifying when contracts should be listed on the governments Contracts Finder service. Contracts Finder has been the go-to portal for low value contracts in the UK since it’s launch in 2011, but with the UK’s departure from the European Union and the creation of the new Find a Tender portal for higher value contracts, the government felt a PPN to consolidate guidance on policy requirements was needed.
Contracts Finder remains the search option for ‘low value’ contracts, that is contracts over £10,000 for central government or £25,000 for NHS Trusts. Contracts below these values are not subject to the PCR regulations; contracts above £118,000 will be listed on Find a Tender.
Organisations Using Contracts Finder
PPN 07/21 replaces PPN 07/16 and applies to all contracting authorities across the public sector, other than those who are exempt: Devolved or mainly devolved authorities in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland; Healthcare services that fall within the Procurement, Patient Choice and Competition Regulations of 2013; and Maintained schools, academies, and sixth form colleges.
It is a requirement for all other public sector organisations to publish the information to Contracts Finder within 24 hours of it appearing on any other portals or media. In practice, many contracting authorities use procurement services that will publish opportunities to all portals including Contracts Finder and Find a Tender at the same time.
Key Changes to the Regulations
The PPN reflects changes that have been made to the PCR as a result of Brexit, with the key changes being:
- All references to Office of the Journal of the European Union (OJEU) have been replaced with the Find a Tender service.
- The definition of ‘contract award’ has changed to mean the date the contract is signed by the last contracting party with publication happening the day after – if the day after is a non-working day, it must be published on the next working day.
- The definition of central government has changed to align with the definition of central government authorities in the PCRs 2015.
- Central government authorities should encourage Arms Length Bodies and Non-Department Public Bodies to also use the guidance on a voluntary basis.
- Requirements for publishing the details of the award of contracts have been brought into line with the Find a Tender services, at a fixed 30 days after award.
What Does This Mean for You?
As a user of the portals, you probably won’t notice much of a difference, the search will continue to operate in the same way but this guidance should ensure that all organisations who should be using the service, know that they are required to do – potentially leading to an increase in the number of tenders.
We particularly welcome the encouragement for associated bodies to be encouraged to use the guidance and the service, as this will bring more consistency to the bidding process which supports small businesses who don’t have the time to learn and relearn systems for a single bid.
Don’t know your PQQ from your PCR or your PPN? Don’t worry. We know that the legalese of bidding can give small business owners a bit of a headache. If you’d like to get a better grasp of the terminology and processes behind the world of bids and tenders, then our SME Academy is fully-funded email-based training that you can sign up for here.
If you’d prefer the personal approach, and have questions, or an opportunity you’d like to review then get in touch today. We’d be happy to help.