Procurement in a nutshell – electronic procurement and electronic guidance
9th October, 2015
In this Procurement in a Nutshell update we will be looking at the use of electronic communications between authorities and suppliers under the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (PCRs 2015).
The key changes implemented include introducing mandatory use of electronic communications in regulated procurement procedures, permitting oral communications in certain circumstances, allowing the use of electronic signatures, rules on e-auctions and explicit coverage of electronic catalogues.
For procurements commenced on or after 26 February 2015 the following rules are now in place:
- Free and unrestricted electronic availability of procurement documents is required (Regulation 53).
- Dynamic Purchasing Systems to be operated as a completely electronic (Regulation 34(2)).
- E-Auctions rules apply if authorities choose to use e-auctions (Regulation 35).
- E-catalogues rules apply if authorities choose to accept or require use of e-catalogues (Regulation 36).
- Rules on oral communications, data integrity, and permitted types of communication apply (Regulations 22(8)-(12) and 121).
E-communications rules apply if authorities choose to use e-communication (Regulation 22(13)-(21)).
Other obligations have been postponed until later dates to allow authorities as much time as possible (within the legislation limits) to adapt:
- From 18 April 2017 full requirements for e-communications apply to Central Purchasing Bodies, including for individual call-offs for frameworks awarded by Central Purchasing Bodies (Regulation 37(7)).
- From 18 October 2018 full requirements for e-communications apply to all contacting authorities, including for call-offs under frameworks.
Other key points include:
- There is no current plan to introduce a single, central e-communication solution.
- Rules in Regulations 22(16) and (17) state that the exact time and date of receipt of requests and tenders must be ascertained, but ordinary email may not fulfil these requirements and as such dedicated solutions are recommended.
- A new provision requires authorities to specify the level of security for e-communications in the various stages of the procurement procedure and ensure they are in accordance with (Regulation 22(19)).
Why is it important?
These regulations will be important to all Contracting Authorities as the changes will vary the methods Authorities and suppliers communicate and contract. It is widely agreed that e-communications can help reduce procurement process costs for suppliers and authorities, reduce procurement timescales, encourage access to opportunities for suppliers, facilitate compliance with the rules and promote traceability, transparency and auditability in the procurement process.
How can I find out more?
If you have any queries on the issues raised or on any aspect of procurement, please contact us via our procurement hotline on 0191 204 4464.
Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.
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