The Art of the Possible in Public Procurement – E3M

After a half-decade and more of austerity, the basic efficiencies available through tendered competition have already been secured. That particular well is empty. If essential public services are to be maintained or improved, we’re going to have to look at doing things another way. This is the message we hear every day when we speak with the Commissioners of public services. For all of this desire amongst Commissioners to think afresh, there can be a countervailing force – a barrier to change.

That barrier is often perceived to be procurement – with regulations and iron-bound processes acting to stifle reform, hamper innovation and maintain the status quo. Change often seems like pushing on a piece of string. We strongly believe that this is a matter of custom and practice and need not be the case.

The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 provide Commissioners with a great deal of flexibility to achieve the outcomes they seek for their communities. The purpose of this publication is to highlight some of those flexibilities, how to unlock them and some of the practical things that can be achieved within the scope of the law – the art of the possible in public procurement.

This publication is aimed at Commissioners and other change-makers in public authorities in England and Wales. It is not intended to be one more guide to procurement regulation (of which there are already plenty) and we assume that this landscape will be at least broadly familiar – with the basic vocabulary of procurement known to you. It is intended to be a part of a Commissioner’s toolkit, providing supporting argument as you seek to drive change in your organisations.