The UK government’s industrial strategy rightly highlights public procurement as one of the most important levers government has for driving social and economic prosperity across the UK’s regions and nations.
Brexit and the spotlight it is shining on our current regulatory environment provide both a risk and an opportunity here. Get it right and our exit from the EU offers the opportunity to re-evaluate public procurement processes, shift behaviours and strip out unnecessary complexity in government contracting, with the ultimate aim of delivering greater value for citizens. Get it wrong and not only could the health of the UK government marketplace decline, but UK suppliers could lose the ability to compete fairly in the vast European market for public contracts.
In Markets for Good, a new briefing paper from CBI/Brown Jacobson, the CBI outlines the key opportunities for government to improve public procurement after Brexit.
Access to European public procurement markets
The report argues that maintaining access to European public procurement markets, by avoiding significant divergence from existing EU rules, is essential if UK firms are to continue benefitting from a marketplace worth around €1.9tn per year.
Existing opportunities that ned to be untapped
What it also highlights, however, is that there are significant untapped opportunities to improve partnerships between the public and private sector, within the constraints of the current EU regime.
These include boosting pre-market engagement for larger and more complex contracts across the public sector, and promoting a focus on long-term value rather than short-term costs, by working with industry to effectively implement a new social value framework for contracts.
Developing commercial expertise
To apply the current rules more effectively, the CBI also argues that it is essential that government continues to invest in improving commercial expertise across public service agencies, and that commissioners should look to create more multidisciplinary teams focussed on overseeing the end-to-end delivery of key contracts.
While many of businesses’ priorities for change are behavioural rather than regulatory, Markets for Good does highlight some targeted areas where the current procurement rules could be adapted to support a more efficient and effective government marketplace.
Taken together, these new recommendations look to build on the recent publication of the Government’s Outsourcing Playbook, and are aimed at ensuring public-private partnerships continue to deliver the high-quality public services and infrastructure the country needs