Wednesday, 22 January 2014

New procurement rules - is that it?

I haven't actually had the opportunity to have a look at the revisions to the EU public procurement rules but base this comment on the article by two lawyers which appeared in The Guardian's Policy Hub. Two lawyers are probably a much more reliable source than me anyway.

However, assuming Formosa and Weller's interpretation is right, I have to say 'so what?'

The idea that new Directive justifies saying that Public Procurement is the next weapon in combatting climate change is just complete and utter nonsense. If the new Directive encourages looking beyond lowest price, then what was the previous option of Most Economically Advantageous Tender about - are the new Directives acknowledging that a culture of 'lowest price wins' is still prevalent?

If however, the new Directive allows consideration of 'lifecycle costs (including greenhouse gas emissions) as opposed to total aquistion costs (including running costs such as energy consumption), then that is something quite radical and new. But how would buyers know how to evaluate greenhouse gas emissions? It seems to me the obvious and most logical way would be to specify using an Eco-Label, but then that's nothing new and was an option 20 years ago.

If the new Directive allows buyers to split contracts, how is that different from the previous option of using 'lots'?

Actually, if Formosa and Weller's analysis sets out the major changes in public procurement I despair, those organisations which were really committed to sustainable procurement were applying these strategies years ago within the former Directives. After the hullabaloo about the UK going to bring about radical changes to the procurement rules surely their must be more - looks as if I will have to wait until the Directive is transposed into revised UK Regulations before I'll be able to detect the changes.

But hold on a second, will it really make much of a difference what the changes in the Regulations say, assuming they are not more restrictive? No, to me the Regulations haven't been the obstacle to sustainable procurement, it's been CPOs lack of enthusiasm, short-term emphasis on cutting costs as opposed to Most Economically solution, and inability to bring about change - I'm afraid the Regulations just can't change those weaknesses.

1 comment:

  1. Gordon, apart from a couple of new procedures and the abolishment of part b services in favour of a higher threshold not much has changed. Don't think that they have gone far enough.