A new and updated PUBLIC PROCUREMENT POLICY 2018 guide covering directives, regulations, policies and guidance relating to the procurement of services, supplies and works for the public sector was issued by Crown Commercial Services on March 26, 2018
Frameworks bedevil SME Design Professionals so please take this opportunity to complete this survey here on Government Framework Agreements to communicate your views and help formulate better policy for SME access & engagement, before the 31st of March deadline.
The survey results will be reported on Project Compass in due course.
The letter transcribed below sets out the purpose and objectives of the survey:
” The UK Government is committed to achieving a target that one pound in every three of public money spent annually on goods and services will be spent with small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) by the end of the parliament. One of the areas under consideration for improvement is Government Framework Agreements as they relate to SMEs.
By engaging with SMEs differently it is hoped that many more will take part in, and benefit from, new business either directly with government, or indirectly as sub-contractors to Prime Contractors.
The Frameworks Group working within the Cabinet Office SME Panel has been considering this matter and we are now conducting some independent research amongst SMEs to gather measurable information. The results will inform our advice to the Crown Commercial Service, which is part of the Cabinet Office, about the future direction of this type of central government agreement.
If your company is an SME and has had experience of Framework Agreements whilst working with, or attempting to work with the UK Government or its Prime Contractors, we would be interested to hear your views. If you have had no experience at all then please disregard this survey.
All contributions are anonymous and should be completed before 31st March 2018 in order for your data to be included in the results.
We have timed participation to less than ten minutes. We greatly appreciate your help in this matter.
Please click here to participate in this independent study.
Many thanks and kind regards.
Chair, Frameworks Working Group, Cabinet Office SME Panel”
Carillion’s collapse: Project Compass director Russell Curtis has called in ‘Let’s hope the lessons of Carillion’s failure will be learnt’, (AJ 17 January 2018) for “a more diverse supply chain to avoid another Carillion catastrophe, so we can face a future with a diverse, specialist and varied supply chain, which matches projects with proficiency and project scale with practice size.”
The growing crisis within the building industry shows that the driving policies and practices which are aggregating contracting into ever larger private contracts is simply failing, from the Edinburgh Schools fiasco, Grenfell and now Carillion’s collapse.
In UK procurement far practice greater regard now needs to be placed on the available provisions within Directive 2014/24/EU and the Public Contract Regulations 2015 (noted in the informative below). These provisions have to date been in effect disregarded in procurement within England.
Procurement threshold values from 1 January 2018 for Public Contracts are revised. These revisions are biannual and are showing an increase in the GBP values due to fluctuations in exchange rates over the previous two years. These are the new threshold values which now apply generally in construction under the Public Contracts Regulations 2015. Small Lots are more fully described in PCR 2015 6 (14) (15) but occur where a defined public procurement is defined as otherwise taking place but lots within it may be excluded.
Services & Supplies contracts
(up from £106,047)
(up from £4,104,394)
|Other Contracting Authorities||
(up from £164,176)
(up from £4,104,394)
under PCR 2015 6 (14) (15)
(up from £62,842)
(up from £785,530)
(With the exception of service contracts under Directive 2014/24/EU Article 74. Article 13 and R & D services under Article 14)
Although these do not so frequently apply within the construction sector, for the thresholds under the Light Touch Regime, thresholds for Social and other specific Services, and thresholds under the Concession Contracts Regulations 2016, Utilities Contracts Regulations 2016, and the Defence and Security Public Contracts Regulations 2011 please refer to Procurement Policy Note PPN 04/17
Short illustrated articles on your experiences of architectural competitions in Europe are invited for the Venice Biennale 2018.
This Open Call is part of a project that aims to improve architectural competitions and design contests by appraising comparative performances, procedures and outputs across Europe to identify issues and best practices, for their improvement and reform. It is part of the joint European programme on Competition Culture in Europe by Project Compass, Architectuur Lokaal and A10 New Architecture Co-operative to be presented in the Italian pavilion, Palazzo Widmann at Venice Biennale in May 2018. Outputs will also be available across Europe on thefulcrum.eu.
To submit please let us know, by writing to ProjectCompassCIC@gmail.com
- 400 -1000 words
- Not including the basic details set out below and any references.
- Min. 2 – Max 6 images. Plans & sections are particularly welcome. Please ensure and confirm the images are licenced creative commons use.
- Experiences collected from architects who have won Design Contests* abroad, to better understand the conditions that apply after a specific competition win in another country, including the benefits and obstacles.
- Critical reflection by architects on substantive competition issues including their practices and outputs. For example architects are still consciously and frequently participating in bad competitions, it is not self-evident that jurors read the rules first and clients are failing to honour results.
- Collecting data that contributes to misunderstandings and preconceptions in competition culture, including the commonly held beliefs that all problems arise from regulations.
- Collecting data into how, in each country, European, national and local laws and regulations are arranged, weighted and customised in competitions so as to provide insights on the benefits and disadvantages of the varied national applications.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION – SEE THE FULL SUBMISSION DETAILS AVAILABLE HERE We look forward to receipt of your submission(s) to this Open Call for the Venice Biennale 2018
Dear Len Duvall
Re: Reporting oversight on the Garden Bridge
Regarding the GLA Oversight Committee meeting of 11 October 2017 on the Garden Bridge we are writing to ask your committee to consider moving to clarify a relevant issue that is raised.
This relates to how design propositions that benefit the public estate can be brought forward by London’s design community in future. We believe this will release enormous untapped potential to identify opportunities and deliver growth.
The endeavours of UK design professionals to support a project from inception are often ignored, and the knowledge lost as any scheme adopted for public implementation will then be put out to competitive tender. There is now therefore little motivation for design professionals to initiate and nurture projects from inception as almost inevitably the original designers will be preclude as the established competitive processes are highly restrictive.
This effectively locks out many of those who would be particularly well placed to support ‘bottom up’ endeavours, whether for example through the engagement of design professionals with their communities or by creating imaginative and valuable design ideas contributing to the city’s wider needs, vitality and wellbeing.
The Public Contract Regulations (PCR) 2015 provide seven procurement routes but the ‘Restricted Procedure’ predominates in the UK, while others are hardly ever used. Improved clarity could open the opportunity for procurement officers to select more appropriate procedures. Because it aims to secure design copyright (PCR 2015, Reg. 32.2[b]1) use of the ‘Negotiated procedure without prior publication’ offers significant potential for clients to access the ideas and knowledge of those involved in ‘bottom up’ initiatives.
The regulation (32.2[b]) however is caveated ambiguously, in the following terms:
“when no reasonable alternative or substitute exists and the absence of competition is not the result of an artificial narrowing down of the parameters of the procurement”
An absence of guidance in the UK for procurement lawyers, specialists and public authorities’ means they are unable to justify using this procurement route. This is not the case in much of Europe where it is more widely used, as clarity on this regulation often exists.
We believe that this could be resolved and this alternative route opened up if clarification of clause 32.2[b] were provided to enable clients to benefit from the knowledge and initiative of an existing design team. What is needed is a process by which a project can be transparently and clearly evidenced as delivering value, probity, fairness and quality in the best interests of the public.
Subject to upholding all these other procurement principles, and to unlock opportunity through this procedural route we would therefore recommend regulation (32.2[b]) be clarified with the addition of a peer review process, to be used only where relevant, that would allow each case to be tested on its merits.
Our suggested wording for the clarification to regulation 32.2(b) is as follows:
“In the built environment this may be evidenced by impartial independent peer review, comprising a minimum of three qualified reviewers, with no conflicts of interest and having at least ten years’ experience of holding a specific qualification directly related to the subject being reviewed.”
We propose that consideration might be given to adopting this or a similar clarification through governance, or by standing order across the TfL GLA family, or by national provision through a Procurement Policy Note (PPN). This would allow us all to benefit from the positive and creative endeavours of those developing built environment ideas for public good.
London has many challenges and it is clear that we need to find a way through this issue that will encourage design professionals to come forward with ideas and to engage with communities in order to meet them, and for client bodies to know they can access those ideas and benefit from the knowledge and work already carried out.
We trust that your committee and the GLA will give due consideration to the matters raised above.
- Andy McConachie, associate partner Simpson Haugh Architects
- Angela Brady OBE. PDSA PPRIBA, director Brady Mallalieu Architects Ltd
- Carl Turner RIBA, Carl Turner Architects
- David Mikhail, Mikhail Riches architects
- Deborah Nagan, Nagan Johnson Architects
- Ian Ritchie CBE RA, Ian Ritchie Architects
- James McCosh RIBA, van Heyningen & Hayward Architects
- Jonathon McDowell, director Matter Architecture Ltd
- Luke Tozer, Pitman Tozer Architects Ltd
- Meryl Towney RIBA, van Heyningen & Hayward Architects
- Mike Davis CBE RIBA FRSA FRGS FICPD, founding partner of the Richard Rogers Partnership
- Robert Sakula, Ash Sakula Architects
- Roland Karthaus, director Matter Architecture Ltd
- Russell Curtis, director RCKa Architects
- Sarah Wigglesworth RDI MBE RIBA, Sarah Wigglesworth Architects
- Simon Astridge, Simon Astridge Architects
- Tomas Stokke RIBA, director Haptic Architects
- Walter Menteth RIBA, Walter Menteth Architects
1The Public Contract Regulations 2015 – Regulation 32
Use of the negotiated procedure without prior publication
(2) The negotiated procedure without prior publication may be used for public works contracts, public supply contracts and public service contracts in any of the following cases:—
(a) where no tenders, no suitable tenders, no requests to participate or no suitable requests to participate have been submitted in response to an open procedure or a restricted procedure, provided that the initial conditions of the contract are not substantially altered and that a report is sent to the Commission where it so requests;
(b) where the works, supplies or services can be supplied only by a particular economic operator for any of the following reasons:—
(i) the aim of the procurement is the creation or acquisition of a unique work of art or artistic performance,
(ii) competition is absent for technical reasons,
(iii) the protection of exclusive rights, including intellectual property rights,
but only, in the case of paragraphs (ii) and (iii), where no reasonable alternative or substitute exists and the absence of competition is not the result of an artificial narrowing down of the parameters of the procurement;
Following investigations into London’s Garden Bridge nineteen architects have written to the Chair of the GLA Oversight Committee, calling for better ‘bottom up’ enablement of public services through regulatory clarity.
“There is now little motivation for design professionals to initiate and nurture projects from inception as almost invariably the original designers will be preclude as the established competition processes are highly restrictive.
This effectively ‘locks out’ many of those who would be particularly well placed to support ‘bottom up’ endeavours, whether for example through the engagement of design professionals with their communities or by creating imaginative and valuable design ideas contributing to the city’s wider needs, vitality and wellbeing.”
The proposals tabled would “..allow all to benefit from the positive and creative endeavours of those developing built environment ideas for public good.
“London has many challenges and it is clear that we need to find a way that will encourage design professionals to come forward with ideas and to engage with communities in order to meet these challenges, and for client bodies to know they can access those ideas and benefit from the knowledge and work already carried out.”
Public Interest Challenge & Garden Bridge Oversight. Transcribed below is a letter submitted by Project Compass to the GLA Oversight Committee calling upon them to consider better regulatory policing by means of a Public Interest Challenge for framework procurements, in specified circumstances.
“Dear Len Duvall,
Further to the recent GLA Oversight Committee mtg. of 11 October ‘17 where you called for exploration of future procedural improvements in TfL and the authorities procurement, on behalf of Project Compass CIC I am writing enclosing a proposal for your committees consideration and recommendations forward, along with a supplementary informative.
- Under the Public Contract Regulations (PCR) 2015 challenge of unprofessional procurement practice is available to those bidding who are defined within strict limitations as ‘economic operators’ and such challenge may only be within a constrained timescale.
For commercial reasons this can be particularly problematic for private firms, especially when they may seek further work from the awarding authority and that authority has a large and/or dominant market position. In effect they are captured. Pragmatically this conflicts commercial firms, and can in the case of the Garden Bridge procurement and other case study evidence we have researched lead to unprofessional procurement outcomes lacking transparency.
We would propose in future, within the standing orders and governance of a TfL or London wide remit, or by the national provision of a Procurement Policy Note (PPN) or in the longer term by reform of PCR 2015, that consideration might be given to the provision of a Public Interest Challenge, when poor procurement practices become publically apparent.
In this way a higher bar of accountability could contribute towards improving transparency and further professionalising practices to provide better, more effective and efficient procurement. This could address those aspects of the apparent conflicts in the existing procurement regulations.
Our thoughts on how the principle of allowing a public interest challenge might be embodied are set out below……(Letter Items 2 & 3 redacted here)
…. I trust the enclose maybe of value in informing best practice forward.
PUBLIC INTEREST CHALLENGE PROPOSAL – NOTES:
It is the definition below which largely appear to preclude a ‘Public Interest Challenge’
PCR 2015 Clause 2(1) Definitions:
“economic operator” means any person or public entity or group of such persons and entities, including any temporary association of undertakings, which offers the execution of works or a work, the supply of products or the provision of services on the market;
PCR 2015 Chapter 6:
In regulations 89 and 90, “economic operator” has its usual meaning (in accordance with regulation 2(1)), but in the other provisions of this Part “economic operator” has the narrower meaning of an economic operator (as defined by regulation 2(1)) to which a duty is owed in accordance with regulation 89 or 90
Clause descriptions/definitions however might possibly be clarified by means of a Procurement Policy Note, or within the local GLA or TfL remit by governance/standing orders or ordinances are set out below:
Proposal: ‘an economic operator which, in consequence suffers or risks suffering, loss or damage’ shall mean the public or their representatives.
Clause 92 (4) & (5) Discretionary extension of the time limit for actioning proceedings.
Proposal: The court shall be required to consider the timescale in which the public or their representatives might reasonably have become conscionably aware.
Clause 93 (5) (b) a summary of the relevant reasons
Proposal: ‘relevant reasons’ shall mean reasons that are evidentially substantial and relevant to the notified award criteria assessed in accordance with these regulations.
Proposal: The definition shall have the same meaning as that proposed in clause 91(1) (above)
The key principle being to allow the possibility of a public interest challenge!”
(This article was originally published in Planning & Building Control Today).
To find an architect lamenting the erosion of the profession’s role within the construction process may elicit from many little more than crocodile tears, and to others, smack of a futile act of self-preservation when faced with challenging financial targets, shrinking capital budgets and the avoidance of risk. But whilst architects’ railing at the demotion of quality in favour of ‘certainty’ is hardly new, events of the last year have suddenly thrust our concerns into the spotlight.
It is still far too early to apportion culpability for the horrific fire at Grenfell Tower in June, but it is possible that this may emerge as the latest, and most tragic, manifestation decreasing oversight that architects have been warning about for so long. At the very least, there is clear evidence that a lack of professional, independent scrutiny has resulted directly in catastrophic failures elsewhere which could — had circumstances been only very slightly different — have resulted in tragedies of their own.