Mark Bassett highlights the latest procurement news for construction businesses from the last few months.

  • Concession Contracts threshold: the Cabinet Office and the Crown Commercial Service have published Procurement Policy Note 04/16, which provides contracting authorities and utilities with the threshold levels to apply for the purposes of the Concession Contracts Regulations 2016 (the Concession Regulations) with effect from 18 April 2016. The Concession Regulations: place the award of services concessions by contracting authorities and regulated utilities on a statutory footing for the first time; will make it easier to challenge public procurement procedures involving concession contracts; and will increase the range of remedies available to claimants.
  • "Procurement tool targets bid-rigging cheats": in an effort to help procurers and supply chain professionals understand the damaging effects of bid-rigging, an e-learning package has been created. Bid-rigging is a harmful, anti-competitive activity that can lead to perpetrators being convicted for fraud and corruption. In effect, bid-rigging is a form of cartel: businesses collude when tendering for contracts and this results in the winning bidder achieving a higher price. Taxpayers are often the ones to pay for the consequent overcharging. The new e-learning package will also help those involved in procurement learn how to spot signs of potential illegality in bids, deal with suspect bids and know where to seek further help. It explains about the types of bid-rigging such as bid rotation, cover pricing and bid suppression. You can learn more in the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and Crown Commercial Service's press release, CMA's open letter to procurers explaining the issues, its 60-second summary and its video for more information.
  • Timely delivery for regeneration projects: in a recent article for the Solicitors' Journal Half Year Review (June 2016), Mark Bassett considered some of the legal issues and challenges that local authorities can face as they attempt to regenerate their localities, taking lessons from the well-documented Winchester scheme. The Winchester Silver Hill scheme was based on a development agreement between Winchester City Council and a developer for a mixed-use retail and residential scheme in the city centre, with a development value of £130 million, which was awarded in 2004.
  • Improving major project delivery: in June, the IPA launched new content for the Project Initiation Routemap for improving the delivery of major projects. The Routemap is a strategic tool that allows sponsors and clients to address the problems that commonly emerge at the beginning of major projects, setting themselves up to succeed. More information and a link to the Routemap can be found in this press release.
  • The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has issued:
    • Procurement Policy Note (PPN 07/16), reminding public bodies that contracting authorities must ensure any procurement opportunities and contract awards above certain low thresholds are published on Contracts Finder;
    • Procurement Policy Note (PPN 8/16): Standard Selection Questionnaire (SQ) template, which applies to all contracting authorities in England, and contracting authorities in Wales and Northern Ireland that exercise wholly or mainly reserved functions for procurements above the thresholds laid down in the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 SI 2015/102 (2015 Regulations). PPN 8/16 replaces the current standard Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) and supersedes the guidance on supplier selection and PQQs in Procurement Policy Note 03/15: reforms to make public procurement more accessible to SMEs (PPN 03/15). It should be highlighted to those in purchasing roles; and
    • procurement policy note (PPN 09/16): setting out a new approach to balancing the importance of social, environmental and other policy consideration against factors which are more commonly evaluated in procurement procedure such as cost and quality. The guidance applies to contracts with an estimated value of above £10 million and provides "critical success factors" for government departments to consider when planning procurement projects.
  • Enabling BIM through Procurement and Contracts: King's College London has published its research report on building information modelling (BIM). The research was partly grant funded by the Society of Construction Law and the Association of Consultant Architects and the research methodology was agreed by a multi-disciplinary research group. Click here to access to the report.
  • New code of practice for BIM asset management: the National Building Specification has announced the inclusion of BS 8536-2: 2016 – a code of practice for asset management – in the Building Information Modelling (BIM) suite of documents. The new standard provides a "structured and systematic approach to briefing to ensure operating and maintenance costs are minimised" and addresses "linear infrastructure assets such as transport/energy distribution and geographical infrastructure assets such as flood alleviation".