What is the common framework for Public Procurement?

frameworks-public-procurement

One of the advantages of Brexit is the simplification of the complex public procurement process. Buyers and suppliers across the UK heaved a sigh of relief. However, cutting ties left some gaps and areas of uncertainty in procurement that needed to be dealt with.

You see, EU regulations governing procurement throughout the UK provided consistency and harmonisation in public sector transactions. Post-Brexit, there was no consistency in the UK countries, which begged for a unifying framework in the gaps left by the removal of EU law.

The solution turned out to be Common Frameworks.

The Common Frameworks aim to establish a new legal framework for public procurement in the UK, filling the gaps left by the removal of EU law and ensuring that public sector procurement is subject to a legal framework designed to encourage free and open competition and value for money.

Common Framework Principles

Common frameworks apply in areas where EU law used to intersect with devolved competence. There are three principles governing common frameworks.

1) Common frameworks are only used where they are necessary and where they must meet the following objectives:

  • Compliance with international obligations
  • Manage common resources
  • Ensure cross-border justice
  • Protects the UK’s security
  • Manage the UK’s internal market, while acknowledging policy divergence
  • Enable the UK to negotiate and implement trade agreements and international treaties

2) Frameworks respect devolution settlements and democratic accountability through established conventions and practices, including:

  • Ensuring devolved institutions aren’t adjusted without consent
  • Maintaining the flexibility to tailor policies according to each territory’s needs
  • Increasing the devolved administrations’ autonomy and decision-making

3) Frameworks recognise economic and social links between Northern Ireland and Ireland:

  • Recognising that Northern Ireland shares a border with the EU.
  • Ensuring adherence to the Belfast Agreement

Types Of Frameworks

In general terms, a framework agreement, including a framework contract or framework contracts, is an arrangement between one or more contracting authorities and one or more suppliers that lays out contract conditions covering the contracting authorities’ future orders or contracts within the framework period.

Unlike simple agreements, a framework contract comes with legal obligations for both the procurer and the supplier, much like a normal contract under procurement regulations. These obligations include pre-agreed minimum and maximum order quantities, legally binding the procurer to purchase and the supplier to supply under the agreed terms.

They are convenient for buyers and suppliers because there’s no need to go through the whole procurement for each contract. The system is more efficient and cost-effective than traditional procurement methods.

There are two primary types of framework agreements:

1) Single-supplier framework agreement

Buyers can continue to place orders when necessary, provided they remain in the ambit of the original contract.

2) Multi-supplier framework agreement

Contracts can be carried out in one of two ways.

  • Clear, unambiguous terms enable buyers to simply select a supplier that matches a particular requirement. Contracts are awarded directly – no competitions of any kind.
  • Mini competitions between suppliers in the framework agreement. The framework agreement can be split into different categories with different requirements. Mini competitions can be held between suppliers in a particular category.

Dynamic Purchasing Systems

Dynamic purchasing systems (DPSs) are similar to frameworks, but there is one key difference.

  • Submissions for frameworks close once the process has begun. The number of suppliers is limited.
  • Suppliers can join anytime in the process. There is no limit to the number of suppliers.

A DPS is an entirely electronic system that has two stages. During the setup stage approved suppliers are admitted (no limit). Contracts are awarded during the second stage. Buyers invite suppliers to tender for the contract and choose the winning bid that meets their needs.

Examples Of Public Sector Frameworks

Public sector bodies, such as the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), play a pivotal role in the procurement landscape, establishing and managing public sector framework agreements. These frameworks are essential tools for public sector organisations, enabling them to procure goods, works, and services efficiently and effectively.

The CCS, recognised for orchestrating the most frameworks among all public sector bodies, offers a search tool for filtering agreements by status and sector, which is invaluable for any public sector organisation looking to navigate the complexities of procurement.

These agreements are designed with the legal framework and principles in mind, including equality of treatment, transparency, mutual recognition, and proportionality, addressing the challenges public sector organisations face in finding suitable contractors.

Frameworks are used for just about any industry you can think of, serving the same general purpose but varying in application. Here are some examples of public sector frameworks.

  • Crown Commercial Service (CCS): G-Cloud and Digital Outcomes
  • Government Digital Service (GDS): Cloud Hosting
  • NHS Shared Business Services (SBS): Total Workforce Solutions
  • Transport for London (TfL): NEC3 Engineering and Construction Contract

Framework Application In Public Procurement

We’ve named a few frameworks, now let’s look at what they do.

A procurement framework is an essential tool in public procurement, establishing umbrella agreements between providers and buyers. This setup allows for orders to be placed without undergoing the full tendering process.

It also uses a pool of pre-approved suppliers, ensuring that all providers have been thoroughly evaluated and selected based on their ability to meet specific requirements. This approach simplifies the procurement process and guarantees that contracts are awarded to reliable suppliers, enhancing efficiency and trust in public sector procurement.

Crown Commercial Service

The CCS framework helps manage public sector procurement by connecting buyers and suppliers and working to achieve cost savings that benefit taxpayers. It hosts the G-Cloud framework, which manages procurement for cloud-based services.

CCS also hosts the Digital Outcomes and Specialist (DOS) framework, which manages all things digital, including individual experts and specialist teams.

Government Digital Service

The GDS framework supports digital services procurement opportunities, including projects for digital transformation and service development.

NHS Shared Business Services

SBS manages several framework agreements in categories that include:

  • Business Services
  • Construction & Estates
  • Digital & IT
  • Health

Transport for London

TfL hosts Professional Services Frameworks (PSFs), which is actually a suite of five frameworks:

  1. Commercial Services
  2. Project and Programme Management Services
  3. Transport Planning (Health & Safety, Environmental Services)
  4. Rail Engineering
  5. Multidisciplinary Services

Framework Benefits For Buyers And Suppliers

Buyers:

  • Streamlined processes that reduce costs. 
  • Competitive tendering results in increased value for money.
  • Contract details are agreed upon before commencement, which enables buyers to procure goods, services, or works at short notice.

Suppliers:

  • The simplicity of framework agreements is perfect for first-time and beginner suppliers.
  • Simplicity also cuts admin time, enabling suppliers to focus more on their business offerings.
  • They’re a great way to get experience and develop case studies, which suppliers need when they start bidding on larger contracts independently.
  • Experience and successful case studies help build a company’s reputation in the public sector.
  • Working closely with buyers allows suppliers to build relationships with contracting authorities.
  • Trust between suppliers and buyers can foster innovation and potentially result in cost savings that ultimately benefit taxpayers.
  • In multi-provider framework agreements, several suppliers have to share the limelight. However, a touch of innovation can help set certain suppliers apart from their closest competitors. 

Keep Up With Evolving Frameworks

Nothing in the digital world remains unchanged for very long. Progress can happen in leaps and bounds or little tiptoe steps, but it always happens. Procurement frameworks evolve with changes in demand and the nature of the (public sector) market. They also adapt to changing regulations in national and global procurement, so it’s a good idea to keep on top of what’s what in procurement. 

Sites like Procurement Portal and Procurement Hub, regularly publish updates for suppliers and buyers to remain updated on news and developments in the procurement industry.

Delta eSourcing has its own Delta Engagement Zone, which has all the latest news in procurement and eSourcing. There are also webinars and other resources that guide suppliers and buyers through the procurement process.

Contact Delta eSourcing and book a free demo, so you can find out how our expert staff can help you on your procurement journey.

 

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