The Scottish Government is still working on its proposed Procurement Reform Bill and recently issued an update on progress. Does this mean all change for public procurement in Scotland? It was hoped that the draft Bill would be introduced to Parliament in advance of the summer recess 2013. However, the Government has confirmed that the introduction of the Bill has now been postponed until after the summer recess.
This is primarily due to the new EU draft Procurement Directive, which is currently working its way through the European Parliament?s legislative process. The Scottish Procurement Reform Bill will have to be fully compatible with all of the provisions in the new EU Directive. The timetable for the new Directive has been subject to delay, and this is now expected in autumn of this year at the earliest. As a result, the Scottish Government has decided to delay the introduction of the draft Bill until they have clarity on what the final provisions of the Directive will be. This will allow the Scottish Government to ensure that there are no discrepancies in the Bill, and that further amending legislation will not be required to ensure compliance with EU regulations.
The Scottish Government's proposed Bill aims to overhaul public procurement in Scotland and is centred around the following aims:
- Transparent, streamlined, business-friendly procurement processes
- Providing access to public sector contracts for SMEs, new businesses and third sector organisations
- Encouraging innovation through procurement
- Highlighting and accounting for social and environmental sustainability issues through procurement processes e.g. promoting employment opportunities for under-represented groups, fair and ethical trading, contributing to climate change mitigation etc.
- Avenues for dealing with poor-performing suppliers
- Application of the Bill and ensuring compliance by the correct parties
These aims can also be seen in the EU draft Directive, with a view to increasing efficiency in public procurement, facilitating the participation of SMEs in public contracts, supporting common society goals etc. Collating well-established principles of public procurement law which have come about as a result of case law is also an aim of the new Directive.
This is an?exciting time for public procurement law and the current incarnation of the new EU Directive indicates an appetite to make matters simpler and more efficient. The eagerly awaited Scottish Government Bill should hopefully continue along the same vein and prove beneficial to both public bodies and bidders for public contracts.
If you have a question on procurement, please do not hesitate to contact our team.