This week, the CBI published its new report Markets for Good at an event where Gareth Rhys Williams, HM government’s Chief Commercial Officer gave opening comments and took questions. 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.
As well as calling for maintained access to European public procurement markets, the report highlights the significant untapped opportunities to improve partnerships between the public and private sector within the current environment.
These opportunities include boosting pre-market engagement for larger and more complex contracts across the public sector, as well as 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.
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.
In particular, the CBI would welcome efforts to remove duplication and complexity in Official Journal of the European Community (OJEU) processes, and that reforms to the current remedies regime could make it easier to highlight poor practice, which would ultimately help promote a fairer and more transparent public procurement system. These reforms should include piloting a new public procurement tribunal which would enable more businesses of all sizes to access public procurement remedies.
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.
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