Raising the standard for fairness in public sector procurement

Raising the standard for fairness in public sector procurement

The UK public sector spends over £250 billion, about one-third of public expenditure, on the procurement of goods and services from the private sector. Past procurement practices favoured the bigger, more established organizations and lesser known alternative and smaller firms have often felt unable to compete.

In an attempt to level the playing field in the heavily scrutinized field of public sector procurement, transformation of aspects of the procurement process is afoot.

We are now in a more open and transparent world of work where actions speak volumes. There is an expectation that the most suitable organizations, which provide products and services in the best way without compromising ethics, quality or value for money, should be awarded contracts, regardless of size, maturity or being new to the public sector.

Openness, fairness and integrity is now at the heart of many organizations involved with the public sector and standards are a tool to enable firms to set and meet best practice. BSI, the business improvement company, has worked with stakeholders and released a new standard – BS 95009:2019 Public sector procurement – Generic requirements for organizations providing products and services.

This British Standard provides a framework to help those in the procurement process to demonstrate and assess suitability of organizations tendering for or procuring public sector contracts. The aim is to simplify the tender process, so it is more accessible, and to reduce duplication of effort.

Size and length of tenure of many organizations was historically a barrier to entry in the public sector supply chain and the actual or perceived complexity of the tendering process resulted in many suitable organizations not realizing available opportunities. Now small and start-up organizations will also be able to prove where they are suitable and capable.

In a debate in the House of Lords on 23 May 20191 , Lord Haskel said: “…the world of standards has moved on a long way…Standards are now a tool that enables firms to set and meet best practice. …By meeting the standard, an organization can demonstrate that it meets the generic requirements for an organization providing products and services to the public. …This will not only help to restore public trust and confidence in public suppliers and contractors and in the Government’s handling of the supply of these goods and services; by adopting this standard, public procurement will be much more aligned with the Government’s civil society strategy…”

Anne Hayes, Director of Sectors at BSI, said: “This is the first generic, non-sector specific standard for procurement in the public sector. It offers all sizes of organizations, including SMEs, often excluded from the public sector tender process due to its perceived complexity, a simplified route through the perceived maze of the public sector supply chain.”

BS 95009 is aimed at organizations contracting out provision of products and services to external providers and for organizations acting as external providers. It also is aimed at assisting and aligning with Government policy and with public body procurement conditions and processes.

Further information about BS 95009 Procurement is available here

An event is being held in central London to launch the Procurement standard
Date: 2 July 2019
Venue: The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London
Time: 6:30-8:30pm

If you’re interested in attending, please email: conferences@bsigroup.com

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