Procurement and supply chain bulletin: 24 May 2024

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Procurement and supply chain bulletin

24 May 2024

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Procurement and supply chain

General Election – Transforming Public Procurement go-live remains 28 October 2024

As the Civil Service enters the pre-election period, significant restrictions will be placed on the civil servant, particularly with respect to public-facing communications and engagement. This will restrict their public facing activity to promote the Procurement Act, however much of their stakeholder engagement will continue as normal.

Learning and Development activity and events will continue, so if you are signed up to a Deep-Dive this will go ahead as planned.

Wider communications to all stakeholders will be provided in the coming weeks but there will be some restrictions on what can and cannot be published, under existing purdah guidelines. A series of FAQs is also in the pipeline. Queries can be directed to in the meantime.

How do general elections affect public procurement?

For local authorities in England, the government's Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity stipulates that during the pre-election period local authorities should not:

  • Publish material relating to controversial issues or report views that appear to align the authority with a particular politician or political party.
  • Publish material promoting specific candidates or political figures.
  • Publish material that seeks to influence voters.

We have our own guidelines on how councils should not use public money to support a particular political party or candidate, arrange press releases or events or candidates, issue photographs of candidates, and should think carefully about launching new consultations and continuing to run local campaigns)

Local authorities can publish material that looks to provide factual information surrounding elections (e.g. where people can vote, how to register to vote, etc.).
Tussell recently compiled into the relationship between general elections (specifically, the pre-election period) and public procurement. Their analysis found that the rate of newly released central government prior-Information notices (PINs) and tenders drops markedly during past pre-election periods, while new local government PINs and tenders appear largely unaffected.

Procurement Review Unit’s (PRU) update

The Procurement Review Unit (PRU) will comprise of an independent panel of procurement experts empowered to investigate potential procurement challenges and provide advice. To deliver its aims effectively, the PRU is comprised of three services: the existing Public Procurement Review Service (PPRS) a new Procurement Compliance Service (PCS) a new Debarment Review Service (DRS).

The ambition is to raise standards in public procurement, driving accountability for contracting authorities and suppliers in the UK through:

  • Overseeing compliance to the new legislation and making recommendations if non-compliance occurs
  • Enhancing the services offered to suppliers by the PPRS, to maintain fairness within the public sector procurement landscape
  • Ensuring that only suitable suppliers can bid for public contracts, by implementing the debarment regime. This will include maintaining a central list of suppliers that must or may be excluded from procurements
  • Investigating and issuing recommendations for improvement to contracting authority practice on behalf of Ministers, and actively monitoring contracting authorities’ action plans

The PRU will ‘go-live’ when the new procurement regime goes live, in October 2024 and it will apply to contracting authorities, including local authorities, that carry out procurement in accordance with the Procurement Act, and suppliers.

Education software firm probed over potential abuse of dominance

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is investigating whether ESS has broken the law by taking action to prevent schools from switching to a new management information system provider. Management information systems are important databases used to handle student information, such as attendance and safeguarding, and most UK schools are required to have these databases in place. Education Software Solutions Ltd (ESS) is the largest provider of these systems in the UK, with approximately a 50% share of the market in England, and even higher in Wales and Northern Ireland.

The CMA has received complaints from a number of ESS’s customers suggesting the firm is making it difficult for them to switch to a new provider.

Modern slavery statement registry updated

The government has launched a number of improvements to the modern slavey statement registry. Since launch, over 13,000 statements covering nearly 45,000 organisations have been submitted to the registry on a voluntary basis. This greatly supports business transparency and the ability for consumers, civil society and investors to scrutinise action.

The purpose of the changes is to increase the number of statements being uploaded and also to support businesses to publish more robust statements.

See guidance on publishing an annual modern slavery statement and how to upload to the registry and further information on our own Modern Slavery in the supply chain hub.

International recruitment fund for the adult social care sector 2024 to 2025

This guidance published by the Department of Health and Social Care is for regional and sub regional partnerships to develop solutions to prevent and respond to exploitative employment practices in their areas and support continuity of care provision. £16 million is available to regional partnerships over 2024 to 2025.

A Call for Views on the Code of Practice for Software Vendors and on the Cyber Security of AI

The Call for Views on the Code of Practice for Software Vendors asks stakeholders to give their views on the design and implementation of the proposed code of practice. The proposed code of practice aims to improve the security and resilience of the software that underpins all digital technologies that organisations across our economy have come to rely upon.

This Call for Views is being launched concurrently with the Call for Views on the Cyber Security of AI. This seeks stakeholder feedback on a two-part intervention which involves the creation of a voluntary Code of Practice, and then using it to develop a global standard which sets out baseline security requirements.

The proposed Code of Practice has been informed by the findings of various research studies, including a risk assessment and literature reviews. It builds on the NCSC’s Guidelines for Secure AI Development which were published in November 2023 and endorsed by 23 agencies from 18 countries. 

The Call for Views on AI security and Software Resilience will be open from 15 May 2024 until 10 July 2024.


Transferring Public Procurement: Communities of Practice suite of meet-up events

May and June | meetups | Virtual

Decarbonising Transport – Electric Vehicle Roundtable

Tuesday 11 June 2024, 10.00am to 11.45am | Officers roundtable

Social Value in Action - Social Value Conference

15 -17 October 2024 | In person and virtual

National Children and Adult Services Conference

27 - 29 November 2024 | Arena and Convention Centre (ACC) Liverpool


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