Celebrating greater flexibility and innovation in procurement

The public sector procurement landscape in the UK is changing. HBD Director Anthony Clitheroe looks at the implications and considers the advantages of the new Pagabo Developer Led Framework.

Along with many in the sector, I had my fair share of concerns with the OJEU procurement process in the past. It was often expensive, time consuming and overly bureaucratic, thanks to the threat of legal challenge lurking in the background. In my view, this served to stymie innovation and frustrate the flexibility to adapt to market dynamics, which can change rapidly during procurement. If you’re a procuring authority, that can result in an unsatisfactory outcome despite the best intentions of all parties.

Thankfully, there’s now an opportunity for change through both the publication of a government Green Paper and the recent launch of Pagabo’s Developer Led Framework.

With the unveiling of the Transforming Public Procurement document, the UK can build on its new membership of the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) and address the previous shortcomings.

Most local authorities have, understandably, been risk averse due to concerns over legal challenge. The new proposals offer hope for these barriers to be broken down and for a more dynamic, fit-for -purpose system to take its place – offering greater flexibility and fostering more innovative public-private sector partnerships, with a move away from conformance to outcome-based requirements.

The core principles of value for money, openness and transparency will remain, but there will be a shift in focus from the Most Economically Advantageous Tender (MEAT), often interpreted as the cheapest price, to the Most Advantageous Tender (MAT).

What exactly does this mean? Well, the MAT concept allows buyers to include criteria beyond the subject matter of the contract and incorporate wider government strategic priorities on social value, carbon net zero, SME engagement and modern methods of construction. All of these are already promoted through the Construction Playbook and are expected to be documented as part of a new National Procurement Policy Statement.

I feel this change presents a real opportunity to create a new way of thinking around procurement, promoting more flexibility for innovation and collaborative partnership working from the outset to the benefit of local communities.

Frameworks will form an important part of the new landscape and we are very pleased to have recently secured a position on Pagabo’s pioneering Developer Led Framework which already embeds emerging themes around innovation, simplicity and speed. It allows public sector partners to appoint us direct in a transparent, cost-effective way and in full confidence the Framework is compliant with prevailing procurement legislation.

I firmly believe public sector partners should be able to draw on the delivery expertise, experience and resources of the right developer partner from the outset to obtain the best possible value-for-money for a project. The Developer Led Framework will be an important facilitator for this.

The ability to appoint quickly under the Framework will be particularly important during the post-Covid period, as a fast delivery route to aid economic recovery. Being fleet of foot is critical in achieving this aspiration, given the tight funding timeframes we are seeing.

Exactly how the key themes will be embedded in the procurement of developer partners will be interesting to watch over the next 12 months. HBD will remain strong advocates of the new approach and intend to be right at the forefront of ensuring value for money for our partners and communities.

If you’re interested in discussing HBD’s position on the Pagabo Developer Led Framework or want to explore opportunities, please drop Anthony an email at anthony@hbd.co.uk.