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Transforming public procurement

Changes to government procurement that bidders need to know

Transforming public sector procurement. Picture of an axe being sharpened.

The UK government today announced plans to transform public sector procurement. Contained in a new Green Paper. The goal is to speed up and simplify existing procurement processes, emphasise value for money, and open opportunities for small businesses, charities, and social enterprises.

The plans set out to:

  • Cut red tape and reduce bureaucracy

  • Include wider social benefits such as economic, social, and environmental factors

  • Adopt a ‘British first’ approach with new rules for lower value contracts

  • Simplify procurement procedures to drive increased competition, inspire innovation, and reduce the cost of bidding

  • Prevent spurious legal challenges from unsuccessful bidders

  • Make it easier to exclude poorly performing companies.


The plans will make procurement more transparent and effective during times of crisis where government needs to act quickly to ensure vital goods and services are bought.

The new measures will bring more competition into this process, by changing the rules to encourage more competitive buying in a quick time frame. This will allow for multiple companies to bid for emergency work, without slowing the process down in times of emergency.

One tangible example of this is providing registration information on a ‘tell us once’ basis.


Measures to simplify procurement processes include:

  • The UK’s new “Find a Tender” service for publishing contract notices will go live on 1 January 2021, replacing the Official Journal of the European Union.

  • Over 300 complex regulations will be removed to create a single uniform rulebook

  • Inflexible and complex procedures will be overhauled and replaced with three simple modern procedures: the competitive flexible procedure gives buyers freedom to negotiate and innovate; the open procedure for simpler, ‘off the shelf’ competitions; the limited tendering procedure for use in certain circumstances such as in crisis or extreme urgency

  • Changing MEAT (most economically advantageous tender) to MAT (most advantageous tender)

  • A single digital platform for registering contracts, improving transparency and making life significantly simpler for business

  • A single digital platform for supplier registration that ensures they only have to submit their data once to qualify for any public sector procurement.

Social value

The changes will make UK procurement rules more modern, flexible, innovative and diverse, by allowing government to consider wider social value when picking suppliers. This will ensure that taxpayers money goes further and has more of a wider benefit for society.

British first

In another new move, also published today, the government will allow the public sector to buy British for contracts not subject to international trade rules, by allowing competitions for government contracts under £4.7million for public works and £122k for goods and services to be limited to small businesses, voluntary, community and social enterprises, or to a certain geographical area. These new rules will support SMEs by opening up new opportunities to them and making it easier for them to win contracts, in turn helping to drive local growth, promote innovation, support local recruitment and level up communities across the UK.


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