Procurement in the public sector is known for its complexities. Let's break it down into manageable steps.
Public sector procurement can seem complex, but it doesn't have to be confusing. With the right resources and knowledge, the process can be straightforward and efficient. Let's take a closer look at the ins and outs of public sector procurement.
What is public procurement?
Public procurement is the method by which government bodies, departments, and central government acquire goods and services. It's more complex than private-sector procurement, due to the many regulations that apply. These regulations aim to serve customer needs, while also achieving broader goals, like promoting transparency in government, supporting economic growth, aligning with government policies, and ensuring public money is spent wisely.
In the landscape of the public sector, which includes local authorities, hospitals, schools, housing associations, police forces, and more, a diverse array of goods and services is sourced. This can range from office supplies and IT equipment to major infrastructure projects like building hospitals or constructing roads.
Procurement frameworks are useful tools for both customers and suppliers, simplifying the process and ensuring that all parties adhere to the complex regulations involved in public sector procurement. These frameworks also help to save time and money, by streamlining the process and making it more efficient.
Frameworks enable public sector buyers to procure goods and services from pre-approved suppliers, with terms and conditions and legal protections already agreed upon.
Navigating the landscape of available procurement frameworks can be confusing, but resources such as DfE’s Find a Framework can help buyers find the framework that best fits their needs. These sites provide valuable information and guidance to help make an informed decision.
What procurement routes are available through frameworks?
Within a procurement framework, there are typically two main purchasing routes available to public sector organisations:
• Direct Award - This route allows customers to directly award a contract to a supplier who is already pre-approved and listed on the framework. Use Case: Suitable when a customer has identified a specific supplier on the framework that meets their needs, and there is no need for a competitive tender process.
· Further Competition (Mini-Competition) - Customers can run a mini-competition among the suppliers listed on the framework to ensure they are getting the best value for their requirements. Use Case: Applicable when there are multiple suppliers on the framework offering similar products or services, and the customer wants to evaluate and compare their offerings before making a decision.
The customer’s choice of route is usually based on their specific circumstances and the requirements of their procurement project, and this may also dictate the choice of framework to be used as not all frameworks are able to offer the Direct Award route: most will require the customer to run a further competition in the majority of cases.
What are the benefits of using a framework?
Benefits for Customers
· Streamlined Procurement Process - Frameworks provide a pre-approved list of suppliers, streamlining the procurement process.
· Time and Cost Efficiency - Frameworks save time and resources by eliminating the need for customers to conduct a full open procurement process for each project.
· Access to Trusted Suppliers - Customers have access to a pool of suppliers who have been vetted for compliance, reliability, and quality.
· Compliance Assurance - Procurement frameworks are designed to comply with various regulations and standards, ensuring that customer organisations adhere to legal and policy requirements.
Benefits for Suppliers:
· Access to Public Sector Opportunities - Suppliers on a framework gain exposure to a broader range of public sector opportunities which they may otherwise not have been able to access.
· Reduced Bidding Costs - Being on a framework can help reduce the need for suppliers to invest significant resources in preparing individual bids for multiple projects, especially where work can be awarded to them directly without competition.
· Visibility and Credibility - Inclusion in a framework serves as a mark of approval, indicating that the supplier has met certain standards and is considered reliable.
In essence, procurement frameworks provide a structured and efficient mechanism for both customers and suppliers to understand and engage in public sector procurement, fostering transparency, efficiency, and mutual benefit.
At Everything ICT, our goal is to make public sector ICT procurement as straightforward and efficient as possible for our customers. Through our fully compliant, DfE-approved framework, we strive to simplify the entire process and save our customers time and resources. With pre-approved suppliers and streamlined processes, we make it easier for customers to find the goods and services they need.