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Procurement Reform Bill update

Monday June 3rd, 2013

On 23 May, the Scottish Government announced a delay in the introduction of the Procurement Reform Bill. The aim of the Bill, which was the subject of a three-month consultation in 2012, is to establish a framework for sustainable procurement through making procurement processes more transparent and streamlined, encouraging innovation and growth, increasing jobs and training opportunities and requiring social and environmental issues to be considered in procurement processes.

Jill Fryer

Jill Fryer

No exact date has been given for the introduction of the Bill but it will certainly not be before the Scottish Parliament’s summer break and is likely to be considerably later than that. After its introduction, the Bill has to go through the normal three-stage parliamentary procedure before receiving Royal Assent, which inevitably is a lengthy process.

The reason for the change to the timetable is a delay in the EU procurement modernisation programme. Scottish legislation must be consistent with EU directives and the EU procurement directives are in the process of being replaced. Some of the aims of the EU modernisation programme are similar to the aims of the Procurement Reform Bill, including encouragement of SMEs, explicit recognition of the life-cycle costing approach and purported simplification of the rules.

The European Commission produced its proposals for new EU directives back in December 2011 and they have been the subject of considerable scrutiny and negotiation. Some of the more controversial provisions contained in the proposals have been removed but negotiations continue among the EU institutions and individual member states. Considerable lobbying is still ongoing, and in all likelihood the new draft directives will be further amended, perhaps significantly. A date for agreement on the proposed directives has not been issued but the intention to have these agreed by this autumn appears ambitious.

The protracted and confusing reform processes at both Scottish and EU level will hopefully not be mirrored in the substance of the new legislation – a primary aim of both the Scottish and EU initiatives is the simplification and streamlining of the procurement process.

Jill is an Associate with Harper Macleod LLP and can be contacted at jill.fryer@harpermacleod.co.uk

 

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