Procurement Green Paper Response

11 March 2021

RIA has published its response to the Government's Procurement Green Paper, published in December 2020. The Green Paper can be found here.

Executive Summary

RIA's response sets out the following recommendations:

  • Overall procurement reforms: RIA welcomes these proposals, which align with the Construction Playbook, commit to publication of procurement pipelines, ‘whole life value’ and delivery model assessments (‘make or buy’). These proposals have the potential to reduce costs and increase the competitiveness, sustainability, and productivity of the supply chain. We propose an additional principle of ‘Proportionality’. We welcome the fit with WTO, zero carbon and UN Sustainability goals – but ask for reciprocity in procurement of UK content from global trade partners.
  • Consultation and timescales for reform: The scale of change should not be underestimated – full consultation on detailed proposals and clear, phased, realistic implementation plans are essential. These proposals must not lead to delayed procurement and investment decisions.
  • Cabinet Office Unit and spending controls: A new unit has the potential to support best practice and prioritise innovation – however the remit needs to be clear, it should not duplicate other Government bodies or unnecessarily delay decision making, which delay and adds cost. We would support earned autonomy and further delegated authority for rail clients, as this would allow a Totex (Total Expenditure) approach, supporting Project SPEED aspirations to reduce the cost and time of project delivery.
  • Panel: Given rail spend can account for around 25% of all public infrastructure spend, any new panel should include rail supply chain representatives.
  • New Procurement Act: RIA supports the simplification of the regulations. However, retention of the ability to let longer frameworks is essential for rail. Framework lengths should align with asset investment, project and programme lifecycles – longer frameworks (potentially up to 10-15 years) would also support inward investment. The current proposals would undermine the benefits of long-term supplier relationships, including innovation, productivity and private investment in assets and skills.
  • Frameworks: We welcome the simplification of the frameworks, and suggest the proposals go further to support the development of procurement for innovation, development of intellectual property and collaborative funding and delivery models.
  • Digital Procurement and Support (DPS+): RIA welcomes effective use of DPS+ and data to inform benchmarking. However, we would caution against the proposals being over ambitious and centralised. We recommend consideration of a phased approach, including options for modular rather than single IT system solutions, building on clients’ existing IT infrastructure as appropriate. Data sharing plans will need to provide appropriate protection for commercially-sensitive data, as well as transparency on how commercial sensitivities will be addressed. Operational and cyber security needs to be taken into account.
  • Poor performance and redress: We welcome the intention to reduce the time and cost of legal challenge and recognise the need to get the incentives right. However, any Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) used to assess poor performance need to be applied intelligently, and on the basis of transparent evidence.
  • RIA would welcome full consultation on detailed proposals to ensure that: i) the right balance is stuck between the supplier and client; and ii) any changes, such as the removal of debriefing letters and new mechanisms such as independent review or pre-contractual arrangements, are proportionate and practical.

The Response

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