ICE submission to the Cabinet Office Green Paper: transforming public procurement

This response sets out ICE’s views on the UK government’s proposed wide-ranging changes to public procurement.

  • Updated: 05 March 2021
  • Author: David Hawkes, Lead Policy Manager 
Our submission to this inquiry has been developed by ICE’s Procurement Advisory Group (PAG).  

Key points from the response: 
  • ICE generally agrees with the six proposed principles of public procurement, though would caution against these principles becoming fertile ground for procurement challenges. 
  • ICE fully supports early and regular market engagement. We consider that market engagement provides important opportunities to raise the profile of clients and their work programmes. The engagement should involve a two-way exchange of information and should be used to help raise the appetite of the market for the work. The Cabinet Office should also publish examples of good practice market engagement procedures and techniques. 
  • ICE strongly supports the principle of fair and fast challenges to procurement decisions. However, we have reservations as to the likely effectiveness of the proposals. We therefore propose that manifest error is replaced in the regulations by a new outcome-based test, namely 'material error' – this provides a much fairer basis to restore the parties to the position they would have been in had the error not been made. 
  • For major capital procurements, we consider there would be a high risk that the encouragement of pre-contractual procedures would result in substantial delays to high priority and urgent major infrastructure projects, with adverse impact to public benefit. 
  • ICE supports the proposal to legislate to provide clear access for any business to take up payment delays in the supply chain directly with the contracting authority. This will help to keep clients better informed of payment problems and to make investigations as appropriate.

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