Public clients can award contracts without competitive tender

23 March 2020 | By Will Mann

Government departments, councils, NHS bodies and the wider public sector will be able to issue contracts directly without competitive tender, as part of an emergency change to procurement regulations during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a Procurement Policy Notice (PPN), the Cabinet Office said it was “already clear in these exceptional circumstances” that public bodies may need to procure works, goods and services “with extreme urgency”.

Authorities are permitted to do this using regulation 32(2)(c) under the Public Contract Regulation 2015.

A summary of the PPN gives a number of procurement options:

The change has been made with immediate effect and applies to all public sector contracting authorities.

The PPN added that contracting authorities procuring under the Defence and Security Public Contracts Regulations 2011 and the Utilities Contracts Regulations 2016 and Concession Contracts Regulations 2016 would need to check similar provisions in those regulations.

It also warned that there was likely to be supply chain disruption and that public clients may need to take action “in response to supplier claims of ‘force majeure’ or contract ‘frustration’, which would be covered in future PPNs.

Meanwhile national procurement organisation Pagabo has announced that it will waive framework fees for any projects procured via its frameworks using the government’s PPN note.

Jason Stapley, managing director at Pagabo, said: “Our key mission at Pagabo is to make procurement quicker, simpler and more effective – and that is never more important than in uncertain times like this. We are really pleased to see that the government has taken steps to ensure that projects are still able to move through the procurement process quickly in order to get any urgent, critical work underway and keep the construction industry moving.

“To ensure that we can continue to connect buyers to a wide range of works, services and goods via our frameworks, we have elected to waive all framework fees applied to any of the frameworks we manage for our clients who use this PPN. This means that the only costs paid during the period relating to this PPN will be the costs of the goods, services and works.”


Please read the PCR 2015. This is not a change. PCR already covers exceptional circumstances and the PPN is highlighting that Authorities are permitted to do this using regulation 32 (2) (c).

Hamid Khan, 23 March 2020

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