On 30 January 2015 the Cabinet Office published its response to the consultation on the transposition of the new public procurement directives and the draft Public Contracts Regulations 2015. The response confirms the government’s position in relation to the following policy choices:

  • The new regulations will apply not apply to procurement processes that began before their implementation.
  • The government will take advantage of flexibility where permitted by the Directives, and the regulations will provide for:
    • the reservation of contracts for “sheltered workshops” which employ disabled or disadvantaged persons
    • the use of central purchasing bodies (including in other Member States) – but emphasises that private providers will not normally be included
    • a minimalist approach to the “light touch regime” for social and other specified services – with certain clinical commissioning services being deferred whilst the approach of the new Regulations and Procurement, Competition and Patient Choice Regulations are worked through
    • deeming provision to provide for a right of termination on material change
    • no obligation to subdivide contracts for SMEs – but authorities must provide reasons why not
    • various flexibilities in the conduct of the procurement procedure.
  • Mandatory e-procurement shall be postponed until the latest possible date.

It should also be noted that, following a number of responses on the issue, passive corruption, terrorism offences and relevant offences outside the EU have been added to the list of mandatory exclusions in the draft Public Contracts Regulations.

The response to the consultation suggests that the timescale for implementation will be as follows:

Public Contracts Regulations:
to be implemented in early 2015

Utilities Regulations:
consultation on draft regulations during 2015

Concessions Regulations:
consultation on draft regulations during 2015

Application to clinical commissioning services:
government approach to be confirmed by July 2015, but will not be implemented until April 2016

EU standard forms and notices:
may not be available in time for implementation, so current forms and notices will be used in the intermin

The government shall now press on with the implementation of the draft Public Contracts Regulations, and draft regulations on utilities and concessions can be expected later this year.