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UK procurement reforms: Our submission to House of Commons Public Bill Committee

As you know, we have high ambitions for the UK’s Procurement reforms. They are a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform the UK’s public procurement market, the single biggest item of government spending at c. £300bn a year.

We were enthused to see ambitious proposals for reform in the UK Green Paper on Transforming Procurement and in the response to the consultation.

We were surprised to find important elements in the Green Paper vision missing from the first draft of the Bill. Working with the UK Anti-Corruption Coalition, we published an analysis of 10 key points that we thought should be strengthened in the legislation. 

We appreciate the good work done in the House of Lords to improve the Bill further. Now the Bill is in front of the House of Commons. The Public Bills Committee has asked for suggestions and input on where the Bill can be further improved. We’ve provided a detailed response, based on our global experience of best practices and what works to drive transformational change around the world.

You can see our full submission here, which also included a clause-by-clause feedback on the Bill.

Our key recommendations are that the Bill should:

  1. Adopt clear principles for public procurement across all actors, not just for Ministers to consider in the National Policy Statement
  2. Create a single digital, open data register for all UK procurement information as the default publication method (the UK’s documents and data are far too scattered)
  3. Revise the threshold for contract publication downwards (it moved up during the revisions to the Bill leaving a big scrutiny gap)
  4. Extend the debarment & exclusion regime to include evidence of financial & economic crimes
  5. Raise the threshold on proof of commercial confidentiality
  6. Improve dispute resolution provisions
  7. Improve authorities implied right to terminate public contracts and claw back funds
  8. Establish a duty to identify conflicts of interest proactively

The full submission is here.

We specifically want to thank Prof Sanchez-Graells from Bristol University for his drafting and guidance where we have provided some specific language to improve the Bill. We also want to highlight the very thoughtful commentary by Pedro Telles, Associate Professor at Copenhagen Business School, Former Senior Lecturer in Law at Swansea University and Adjunct at the Law Futures Centre of Griffith University calling for more considered leadership on digitization of public contracting in the UK in the Bill.

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