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Deadline approaching for the UK National GO Awards

UK National GO Awards logo

There’s still time to submit your entry for the UK National GO Awards before the deadline of Friday 1st March.

The GO Awards celebrate the best in public procurement from throughout the UK, recognising contributions from the public, private and third sectors. Entering the awards gives you the opportunity to raise your profile, share best practice with your peers, and have your organisation’s procurement success story recognised. Learn more and enter the awards here.

As well as the prestige of a nomination, there’s the networking opportunities afforded by the GO Awards presentation ceremony. Whether you are a supplier to or a buyer for the public sector, the GO Awards are a fantastic opportunity to celebrate procurement excellence, gain best practice insight and meet fellow procurement professionals at the networking opportunity of the year. Taking place on the evening of Procurex National, 30th April, the exclusive, black-tie UK National GO Awards ceremony will be held this year at the Hilton Metropole Hotel, Birmingham.

Grahame Steed, Business Intelligence and eSourcing Director at BiP Solutions, said of the awards:

 It’s hard to believe that the submissions deadline for the National UK GO Awards is so near – 1st March, in case you don’t have it in your diary. With so much change happening across the public sector, the recognition of consistent excellence and best practice is more important than ever before. We’re looking forward to once again recognising and celebrating progress across the entire public sector supply chain, culminating with the Awards ceremony on 30th April. I urge all organisations across the public sector – and those working with them – to take the time to enter these Awards.

To view all the categories of awards, learn more and submit your entry today, click here.

To find out more about BiP Solutions, visit www.bipsolutions.com.

GO Awards Northern Ireland 2019/20 – Finalists Announced

The finalists for the GO Awards Northern Ireland 2019/20 have been announced.

Celebrating the best in all areas of public procurement, the GO Awards Northern Ireland, now in their second year, recognises the special contribution names from across the public, private and third sectors have made to the Northern Irish procurement landscape. BiP Solutions would like to congratulate everyone who has made it to the final stages of this year’s competition.

The winners will be announced at an exclusive lunch reception at the Titanic Hotel, Belfast on the afternoon of Wednesday 13th March.

This year’s finalists were chosen by the GO Awards Northern Ireland Judging Panel, made up of key figures from across UK procurement. BiP Solutions would like to thank all members of the Panel for their time. The full list of finalists is below.

Grahame Steed, Business Intelligence and eSourcing Director at BiP Solutions, said of the awards:

The GO Awards for Northern Ireland are evolving very well. Despite being in only their second year, we have seen a good range of nominations from across the public sector supply chain and across the country. We’re confident that these Awards will continue to grow in future, and become firmly established as part of the successful overall GO Awards programme.

Finalists 2019/20

GO Buy Social/Sustainable Procurement Award – Construction (sponsored by Buy Social)

  • Kevin Watson Group
  • Fox Building and Engineering, White Young Green
  • GRAHAM-Bam Healthcare Partnership, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust & Central Procurement Directorate
  • Department for Infrastructure, Graham Farrans Joint Venture, AECOM
  • Farrans Construction
  • FP McCann Ltd, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council and Department for Communities

GO Buy Social/Sustainable Procurement Award – Services (sponsored by Buy Social)

  • Countryside Services Ltd
  • G4S Secure Solutions (UK) Ltd
  • Translink and Sword Security
  • BT Northern Ireland & partner TerraQuest
  • DoF Construction & Procurement Delivery and Premiere People

GO Procurement Innovation/Initiative of the Year Award

  • Construction and Procurement Delivery (CPD)
  • Barclay Communications
  • Construction & Procurement Delivery (CPD) – Procurement Operations Branch
  • Derry City & Strabane District Council
  • Clonallon Laboratories Ltd and DeRoyal

GO Procurement Project of the Year Award

  • Translink
  • Derry City & Strabane District Council
  • Northern Ireland Water

GO Procurement Team of the Year Award

  • Translink-  Future Ticketing System (TFTS)
  • Construction & Procurement Delivery (CPD) – Procurement Operations Branch
  • Procurement & Logistics Service (a subsidiary of the Business Services Organisation) partnering with all Health and Social Care Trusts and the Department of Health
  • CPD Supplies and Services Division
  • Local Government Procurement Group
  • Northern Ireland Water
  • Translink –  Procurement Team

For more information on BiP Solutions, visit www.bipsolutions.com.

BiP Solutions launches second report in series exploring local government procurement

New market report considers local government trends, challenges and opportunities in a digital world

Download your exclusive copy of the report here.

Today, BiP Solutions is pleased to launch the second in our series of reports focusing on the changing landscape of public sector procurement. Our latest report considers the impact of this changing landscape for local government in an ever-evolving digital world.

The publishing of the Government’s Transformation Strategy effectively kickstarted the journey of digital transformation for Government with many local authorities taking advantage of the components available to them through GOV.UK.

In fact, across local government today, digital transformation is playing a significant role in meeting the needs and expectations of citizens. In light of this, our report considers the key digital trends and innovative approaches transforming service delivery for citizens. It also considers current spend within local government, with a particular focus on IT/Digital spend, and also draws on findings from recent research conducted by our colleagues at iGov Survey to highlight the specific procurement challenges and opportunities facing local government and the wider public sector.

Eddie Regan, PASS Training Consultant at BiP Solutions, said of this research:

The timing of the latest iGov Survey is quite appropriate, given the current uncertainty about Brexit and the continual questions about what impact it may or may not have on public procurement.

Early engagement, innovation and emerging new technologies all have a massive role to play in the future direction of public procurement. The public sector cannot afford to fall behind and this research highlights that whilst the sector is moving in the right direction, more does need to be done to upskill procurement teams and develop effective supplier relationships that deliver true value for all involvement in the procurement process, including and not forgetting, service users.’

Our report also reflects on our recent Procurex Events in Wales and Scotland and considers key ways take to get ahead if you are looking to tap into the local government marketplace, regardless of your prior experience of procurement.

To read the report in full, please access your personal copy here.

To find out more about our solutions, please visit: www.bipsolutions.com

Brexit latest: publishing contracts if there’s no deal

Crowds representing UK and EU flags

After a tumultuous week in Westminster, the situation surrounding the UK’s exit from the EU continues to be dynamic. Although the ‘meaningful vote’ of 15th January has now taken place, and the Government has survived a no-confidence vote,  much remains to be decided and clarified – not least before the next vote, currently scheduled for 29th January.

However, preparations are underway for various outcomes, and what their effect will be for public procurement in the UK. At BiP Solutions, we are working hard behind the scenes to ensure it continues to be ‘business as usual’ for our customers post 29th March and are pleased to share the update below.

What has the Government said about ‘no deal’?

As previously described in a technical note published in September, the Government has stated that it will ensure that the regulation for public procurement will continue to function in the “unlikely event” of a ‘no-deal’ exit. Current regulations will be adapted as necessary to remain in operation, should this situation arise. The Government reassures that most procurement regulations “will remain exactly the same.”

What might change?

If the UK leaves the EU without a withdrawal deal being agreed, the key change for public procurement will be that contracting authorities would be required to send notices to a new, UK-specific e-notification service. This would replace the need to send to the EU Publications Office and Tenders Electronic Daily. Advertising in Contracts Finder, MOD Defence Contracts Online, Public Contracts Scotland, Sell2Wales and eTendersNI would remain a requirement, as is currently the case.

As a leading e-Sender, BiP Solutions has been working closely with the Cabinet Office to develop this new service.

What will reduce the level of action needed?

As we understand the Cabinet Office’s current guidance, contracting authorities which currently use an ‘e-Sender’, a third-party provider, to submit publications to the EU Publications Office will be able to continue with this approach, regardless of the outcome of Brexit negotiations. However, this is dependent on e-Senders also completing the integration process to send notices to the new UK-specific e-notification service, should this be enacted.

Simon Burges, CEO of BiP Solutions, said:

I am delighted to say that BiP Solutions were one of the first e-Senders in the UK to confirm to the Cabinet Office that we will integrate our services with the new UK e-notification service. This is great news for our customers, since any authority working with BiP will need to take very little action to change their current method of publishing contracts, unlike other e-Senders who may be required to publish notices manually.

This year, we celebrate our 35th anniversary and whilst our operation has grown considerably in size and scope over the years, our core values remain unchanged. We will continue to remain at the heart of the buyer/supplier relationship and support our customers through all stages of their procurement journey, and that includes providing advice and guidance – deal or no deal.

Contracting authorities who work with other e-Senders or who submit their notices directly to the EU Publication Office may need to publish their notices manually to the new UK notification service. Information as to how to do this has not yet been released, meaning that these organisations will have to await further advice depending on future developments.

To find out more about how BiP Solutions can help with your contract and tendering needs, visit www.bipsolutions.com or call (+44) 0141 332 8247.

New guidance on public procurement post Brexit released

Although the government is expecting “to negotiate a successful deal with the EU”, it has released guidance on how to access public sector contracts if there is no Brexit deal.

These guidelines have been created to help British citizens and businesses understand the possible implications of a no-deal Brexit and make any required plans and preparations.

The new document outlines how this will affect access to, and publishing of, public procurement contract opportunities for UK suppliers, contracting authorities and entities and E-Senders.

What happens if there is a ‘no deal’ outcome?

The government has been planning for all post Brexit scenarios, including a potential ‘no deal’ outcome in March 2019.

In the case that the UK leaves the EU without a deal in place regarding future arrangements on access to OJEU/TED, the government has announced that “a replacement UK-specific e-notification service will be made available.”

This means that all UK contract opportunities that are currently published on OJEU/TED will be published on the new UK e-notification service which will be available from exit day. This service will be free for all users. Companies that wish to access contract notices from other EU countries will still be able to access OJEU/TED.

Testing is currently being carried out by OJEU E-Senders, which will ensure that all technical requirements are in place for a smooth transition to the new system, if required.

What will change?

The government has outlined the changes for UK both suppliers and contracting authorities and entities.

  • If there is a no deal Brexit scenario contracting authorities and entities should publish contract notices on the new UK e-notification service rather than OJEU/TED.
  • All other publication requirements for buyers would remain unchanged.
  • Suppliers that would like to find above threshold opportunities from the UK public sector should subscribe to the new UK e-notification service.

Apart from OJEU access, not much is likely to change in procurement as the Public Procurement Regulations 2015 are already in UK law.

Until March 2019

Until March 2019, the UK remains an EU member and all procurement opportunities that fall within the scope of the EU Procurement Directives will still be advertised on the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU).

If there is a Brexit deal it is still unclear what access the UK will have to the OJEU/TED.  The government has announced that there will be more engagement on how to deal with ongoing procurement procedures in the handover period.

The full technical notice is available here.

Micro businesses register with new tender alerts service Supply2Gov

It has been over a week since we launched our new brand Supply2Gov. The tender alerts service for sole traders and micro businesses aims to make the public sector marketplace more accessible to smaller businesses.

Registration for the new service is currently free. If you want to find out more, we have all the details below.

Designed for micro and small businesses

Supply2Gov is a fresh and friendly brand that talks to micro and small businesses about the benefits of public procurement. Supply2Gov users can create new and lucrative revenue streams from the public sector supply chain.

With a modern look and feel, Supply2Gov can be a free and easy way for micro businesses to find more tender opportunities. Our application simplifies the whole registration process and presents an intuitive customer journey.

Flexible payment options

Completely new to the market, Supply2Gov tender alerts gives customers the option to ‘pay as they grow’, with a cost-effective monthly plan as well as a new biannual option.

This means customers have the scalability to work with a solution that’s aligned with their business model and suits their cash flow.

Coverage Options

BiP has introduced simplified and comprehensive coverage options, with Supply2Gov starting with free local area coverage and then moving directly to home country cover.

This gives customers full free access to relevant opportunities on their doorstep with the option to upgrade and access their regional market opportunity.

With more growth potential available and payment plans to support phased expansion, the new Supply2Gov is an excellent introductory solution for micro businesses and sole traders looking to break into the public sector marketplace.

Tender alerts for micro businesses

The team behind the brand are delighted with the final product and are excited to see that many sole traders and micro businesses are already interested in the tender alerts service.

Senior Marketing Executive Melissa Russell says: “Our team are all really excited to see Supply2Gov go to market and really kick off 2018.

“We know how time-consuming tender searches can be, especially if you’re a small business. That’s why we’ve made it as easy as possible for users to find procurement opportunities as soon as they become available.”

Reduce the amount of time your business spends on manual searching with Supply2Gov. Find out more about Supply2Gov and tender alerts on the brand’s website.

For a better insight into all our brands, visit our website.

Introduction to Procurement – Opportunities in 2018

preparing for public procurement opps 2018

While your competitors prepare to wind down for Christmas, you can brush up on your public procurement skills and look for prospects with the backing of a PASS Procurement “Introduction to Procurement” course.

Now that the Autumn budget has been announced, your business can focus its attentions on winning new business. The UK Government wants to work with businesses of all sizes, in all sectors, therefore there is no reason why your business shouldn’t start to look for public procurement opportunities. Why wait? Let’s get started!

Preparing for Tender Opportunities

If you have found an opportunity within the public sector that looks suitable for your business but you are unsure how to tackle it, there are certain steps that are vital when it comes to winning public sector contracts.

Planning

One of the best things you can do is prepare and plan. A winning team is key for winning public procurement opportunities. but lack of resources should not put a sole trader off. The most important thing is to take your time to prepare a strong bid.

Proofing

Creating a timetable at the start of the tender response process will help you to work towards the final deadline date more efficiently. It is important that your tender response is not rushed. If you do not have a proof reader in your team, then make sure that you allocate time to checking your response before it is sent away.

Timing

A good tender response takes time, so choose your battles wisely – only apply for opportunities that you realistically could win. Public sector procurement is competitive and you will be judged on both content and presentation. Make sure you have answered all the questions asked before you consider showing how you could innovate or exceed the requirements of the contract. Above all, apply for the opportunities that would be the most valuable to your business and give yourself extra time to spot any silly mistakes that may have slipped through the net.

training for public procurement

How Can BiP Help?

Public procurement opportunities can be extremely lucrative for organisations that want to win more business. If you have not worked with the public sector before, then the BiP Ultimate Guide to Procurement will give you a head start when it comes to winning government contracts.

Introduction to Procurement

After reading the Ultimate Guide to Procurement, the best way for beginners to approach public procurement is by attending an introductory course. Once you understand the procurement journey you will be well on your way to winning new business.

PASS Procurement’s Introduction to Public Procurement is specifically designed for buyers and suppliers, providing a full overview of how the public procurement process works, from start to finish.

pass procurement logo

There is only one more date for this course in 2017. However, the PASS Spring schedule 2018 is offering course dates across the UK. You will find all PASS Procurement course dates in our events diary.

The last Introduction to Public Procurement event for 2017 is on 13 December in Glasgow City Centre.

Autumn Budget 2017 Public Procurement Opportunities

autumn budget announcement: public procurement opportunities

Theresa May has declared that the latest Budget announcement will make the UK “fit for the future”. This leaves us wondering what public procurement opportunities will come from this optimistic budget.

If you have been following the fallout from the announcement on 22 November, then you will know that technology, housing and infrastructure were three of the sectors that have been given the biggest boost.

The Government’s Commitment to SMEs

Moving forward, the Government wants to work with innovative businesses from different backgrounds.

Last Wednesday, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said:

“If we don’t do more to support the growth of the SME housebuilding sector, we will remain dependent on the major national housebuilders that dominate the industry”.

The Government is keen to increase diversity in the housebuilding sector, which is currently dominated by a handful of large companies. The Government also sees small to medium-sized enterprises – which make up 99% of UK businesses – as key to economic growth and development and has set ambitious targets for doing business with SMEs since David Cameron came into office in 2010.

The Government’s aim is that by 2020, one pound in three of government procurement spend will go to SMEs, whether directly or indirectly as part of the supply chain. This suggests that there will also be subcontracting opportunities that will boost employment and business growth statistics within the UK.

more money for public procurement after the budget

How Does Subcontracting Work?

The Budget will not only open up opportunities for larger companies, but spending is likely to have a ‘trickle down’ effect.

Data from the National Audit Office shows that 60% of the Government’s spending with SMEs came via a larger contractor in the supply chain.

If a larger company does win a sizable contract, they often need to rely on subcontractors to deliver certain aspects of the work, particularly in specialist areas.

Where Are the Opportunities?

The Budget announcement promised that the Government will support the building of 1 million new homes in Oxford-Cambridge corridor. This follows on from the 2016 Budget, which included funding for a new road between Oxford and Cambridge.

On top of this, £540 million will be spent on infrastructure in Northern Ireland as part of the Conservatives’ deal with the DUP. This boost for both housing and infrastructure means that procurement opportunities across a variety of sectors throughout the UK will start to open over the next year or so.

Other opportunities for infrastructure included the investment into the replacement of the 40-year-old rolling stock on the Tyne and Wear Metro, which will be funded by Government money.

Find & Win Public Procurement Tenders

Our Industry Highlights blog features the main takeaways from each sector, including a breakdown of where the money will be spent and what it will be spent on.

It is important that, as soon as your organisation spots a public procurement opportunity, you start to strike up pre-tender conversations. This will leave an impression with buyers who want to work with individuals in your sector.

Start the Process

If you are part of an SME business, now is a perfect time to start looking for public procurement prospects.

When it comes to tendering, you should always stay one step ahead of your competition. Our products allow suppliers in all sectors to find relevant tenders as soon as they become available. This means that suppliers can bid more competitively.

If you have pinpointed an area of Government investment and view it as an opportunity to sell to the public sector, now is a good time to purchase a subscription to a public procurement portal like Tracker Intelligence.

For a better insight into our products, visit our website.

One year on: How will UK public procurement work after Brexit?

public procurement after brexit

This Friday, 23 June, will mark the one year anniversary of Britain voting to leave the EU, and there is still relatively little clarity about trade deals which will have an impact on public procurement.

However, four potential models for a procurement relationship for British companies to participate in the EU market after Brexit have been outlined in a paper published by the European Parliament, titled Consequences of Brexit in the Area of Public Procurement.

The report said the four models relevant to any discussion of EU/UK public procurement post Brexit were:

1. The European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement model, which represents current EU procurement law.

2. The WTO Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA), whose rules are much looser than EU law.

3. EEA-minus, which uses the EEA Agreement but without all its elements.

4. GPA-plus, which adds to GPA provisions. GPA-plus is the approach currently being pursued in negotiations with the US in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

But how likely is each of these to be used, and how would the various models work? Let’s take a closer look at each of them.

EEA

This model is based on the European Economic Area (EEA) agreement, which is currently used by European Free Trade Association (EFTA) states such as Norway and Switzerland.

This agreement would involve Britain being a member of the EEA, without actually being part of the EU. In principle, this model would give Britain access to the single market – in exchange for a financial contribution – without the additional burden of being a full EU member. It’s worth noting that if Britain were to opt for this model after Brexit, they would first have to join the EFTA.

Under the EEA agreement model, the rules would follow those used within the EU, including a requirement to use the EU’s common advertising system for notices – Tenders Electronic Daily (TED) –and to submit notices in one of the EU’s official languages.

However, the EEA model requires accepting the core principles of the EU’s internal market, including free movement of people, which could be a sticking point. Politically, it may be hard to convince pro-Brexit ministers, MPs and voters that continuing to make payments to the EU (albeit not into the main budget), accepting free movement of people and becoming a law taker rather than a law maker is compatible with last year’s vote to leave the EU.

GPA

This model would see the EU-UK relationship on public procurement being governed solely by the rules of the World Trade Organisation Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA).

The GPA model has been used in the EU itself in public procurement agreements with its trading partners who are not parties to the GPA, and it could be a viable option for an EU-UK agreement on procurement.

The UK is currently party to the GPA through its EU membership, but there is no precedent for the current situation. With this in mind, there is some uncertainty as to whether the UK would have to rejoin the GPA after Brexit and this would be the first question that would have to be answered if the UK opted for this model.

One view is that the UK will in fact have to rejoin by following the same process as any new party to the agreement. The other perspective is that the UK can maintain its current rights and obligations under the GPA without having to make a new application to join.

The GPA model could, at the very least, serve as a short-term solution pending a final agreement. However, much will depend on the views of the current GPA Parties and the degree of consensus between them.

EEA-minus

Another possible approach outlined by the report is an ‘EEA-minus’ approach, which would use EU law as the basis for procurement-specific rules and would maintain EU access to above-threshold UK markets on the same basis as at present.

This model is similar to that used in the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area agreements (DCFTAs) between the EU and some neighbouring countries like Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova.

This would work as an EU-UK agreement in procurement even if the UK does not remain fully part of the Single Market, and would mean that the UK would be permitted to continue using the common EU advertising system, TED. However, this model would offer the UK no more flexibility than it currently has and with no say over how rules develop in the future.

GPA-plus

Another option the paper identified is a ‘GPA-plus model’ that would use the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement as a basis, supplemented with additional rules and commitments which could be used to address issues that are not covered by the GPA, including rules based on EU law.

This type of agreement is in place with Chile, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador, and has been pursued in the EU-US trade negotiations. It would give the UK the freedom to pursue its own procurement policy within the limits of the GPA rules.

These are four options which are viable for UK public procurement after Brexit. Regardless of which approach is taken, whether it is one of these four or something completely different, the devil will be in the detail.

With the European Commission estimating that public expenditure on goods, works and services makes up 13.1% of EU GDP and 13.6% of UK GDP, it’s clear that both the UK and EU will be keen to make sure that markets stay open and accessible to each other after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

Keep following the BiP Solutions blog for news, analysis and commentary on public procurement and Brexit.

Key takeaways from 2017’s General Election

2017 general election takeaways

Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap election for 8 June to increase her majority and strengthen her hand in Europe, but she ended up without any majority at all.

The shock result of the 2017 General Election, which saw the Conservative Party returned as a minority administration, raises more questions than answers about where the country goes from here as Brexit negotiations loom.

Here are three key takeaways from the 2017 General Election:

What happens next?

The Conservatives won the most seats, but failed to win outright. To win outright, a party must secure 326 out of 650 seats in Parliament – the Conservatives ended up with 318, just short of an overall majority. However, May will still try to form a government by entering into an agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party whose 10 seats will bring the two parties’ combined total to 328.

But how will this agreement work in practice? With policy disagreements on a number of issues from Brexit and border controls to scrapping the ‘triple lock’ rise in the state pension and means-testing winter fuel payments, it remains to be seen.

IndyRef 2 off the table?

The SNP lost 21 seats across Scotland, with high-profile casualties including Alex Salmond and Angus Robertson, putting plans for a second vote on Scottish independence in serious jeopardy.

After making sensational gains in 2015’s General Election, when Nicola Sturgeon’s party won 56 out of Scotland’s 59 seats, the SNP saw its numbers fall to 35 MPs. As the SNP ceded ground, the Conservatives produced their best result in Scotland since 1983, returning 13 MPs.

While the SNP still has a clear majority of seats in Scotland, losing so much ground could undermine the Nats’ push for a second independence vote in the immediate future.

Ramifications for Brexit

This election was supposed to deliver a national vote of confidence in Theresa May, which would give the PM a mandate to seek a ‘hard Brexit’ ahead of the forthcoming negotiations.

However, entering into an agreement with the DUP is likely to scupper those plans. As Polly Toynbee of the Guardian points out, the “DUP top priority will be soft border, saving Good Friday agreement and free movement across boundary. That absolutely rules out hard Brexit.”

Previous statements from the DUP also point to this being the case. Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, has spoken against a hard Brexit in the past, saying: “No-one wants to see a hard Brexit, what we want to see is a workable plan to leave the European Union, and that’s what the national vote was about.”

Formal Brexit negotiations are scheduled to begin on 19 June. With May’s mandate for a ‘hard Brexit’ seemingly now off the table, it remains to be seen how the UK will secure the best post-Brexit trade deals and policies amid such political uncertainty at home.