Beware! Is the Cabinet Office spot-checking your procurement?
Published 18 February 2014
In its procurement policy note of 6 February 2014, (PPN 02/14) the Cabinet Office announced that it has now extended its existing "Mystery Shopper" scheme to include spot checks on procurement processes.
The Cabinet Office Mystery Shopper scheme was established to promote access to procurement for SMEs and best practice for authorities and has been running since 2011. Historically it has generally acted on complaints about the conduct of procurement processes from interested parties. The Cabinet Office has now announced that it will be conducting unsolicited spot checks examining procurement documents, usually online and on procurement portals, for compliance.
The stated objective is "to raise the commercial capability of contracting authorities through their adoption of good procurement policy and practice, and ensuring that public procurements do not impose unnecessary barriers to small businesses when bidding for public contracts."
The results of spot checks will be published online after consultation with the authorities concerned.
Whilst this is not a formal route to legal challenge, the threat of a complaint to the scheme and the prospect of being publicly "named and shamed" can be a daunting one.