Procurement Alert: The News Regulations Series #5 - DAC Beachcroft

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Procurement Alert: The News Regulations Series #5

Published 5 February 2015

This instalment of our draft Public Contracts Regulations briefing series looks at electronic procurement.

Electronic communication has been the preferred method of communicating with tenderers for many contracting authorities for some time and electronic portals are now commonplace. Whilst electronic procurement can assist in streamlining the process, and ensures good records are kept the Regulations only deal with the process requirements and all systems are only as good as the data that goes in. Rubbish in, rubbish out.

What is the position under the Public Contracts Regulations 2015?

Under the new Regulations, contracting authorities are required to conduct all communication and information exchange (including tender submission) electronically using tools and devices that are generally available and interoperable with products in general use. Most authorities and procurement portals use and can receive open or generally available software applications.

Whilst authorities can use tools and devices that are not generally available, they must then either allow unrestricted and full access to those tools and devices free of charge or provide alternative means of tender submission. So, authorities should think carefully before requiring bidders to use very expensive, or bespoke software, or devices as it may just become a burden the authority has to carry.

When do I need to be ready?

There is a transition period until 18 October 2018 during which non electronic communication can continue, so this should give authorities who are not yet using electronic means time to establish suitable systems or arrangements.

Will any non-electronic communication be permitted?

There are limited circumstances where communication can be by other means. The Regulations specifically list these circumstances, which include where scale models are required, or where information is particularly sensitive and cannot be afforded suitable protection electronically. However, if an authority wishes to rely on one of the listed circumstances it must record and report the reasons why the Regulations permit the non-electronic communication.

Can I still speak to tenderers?

There is no absolute prohibition on oral communication within a procurement process (except where the procurement is for a Dynamic Purchasing System where full electronic procurement is essential). Authorities will still be able speak to tenderers, however the content of the conversations must be documented to a "sufficient degree", and in no event can essential elements of the procurement be undertaken via oral communication. The essential elements include the procurement documents, requests for participation, expressions of interest and tenders - these must always be conducted via electronic means.

Presentations and face-to-face clarification interviews are often conducted by authorities and form part of the tender to be evaluated. Authorities will still be able to conduct these face-to-face meetings, however, the Regulations require that, if the oral communication could impact on the content and assessment of tender, it is recorded in writing or in audio records, for example by video recording.

Save the date

Procurement Breakfast Seminar Series on the new Regulations.

Further details and booking forms to follow.

Tuesday 21 April



Tuesday 28 April



Wednesday 29 April 



Tuesday 5 May



Tuesday 12 May 



Wednesday 13 May 




Alison Walton

Alison Walton


+44 (0)191 404 4129

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