On 3 May 2022 Welsh Government published Welsh Policy Procurement Note “WPPN 02/22: Transparency – publication of contract award notices” (the WPPN).
The aim of the WPPN is to increase transparency in the procurement of sub-threshold procurements and support the introduction of the Open Contracting Data Standard throughout public procurement, as well as the Digital Strategy for Wales.
The WPPN applies to Welsh Government procurements and is deemed to represent best practice for other contracting authorities in Wales.
What is a contract award notice?
A contract award notice is the notice which is published after a contract has been entered into.
The new requirements
Under the WPPN, Welsh contracting authorities should publish a contract award notice whenever a contract with a value over £10,000 including VAT (£25,000 including VAT for “sub central government bodies”) is awarded. This is the case even where there is no obligation to advertise the opportunity or to carry out a competitive procurement.
For the purposes of the WPPN, “Welsh Central Government Bodies” are the organisations listed in Schedule 1 of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (as amended) (the PCR). The WPPN indicates that there will be a phased approach for contracts awarded by Welsh Central Government Bodies, starting with contracts with a value of £25,000 including VAT, although no further detail is included on how that phased approach will operate.
The award notice must be published within 30 days of the date the contract is “awarded” (i.e. the date on which the last counterparty signs the contract). The notice must include:
- the name of the winning organisation;
- the date the contract was awarded;
- the value of the contract; and
- whether the successful organisation is a SME or VCSE
Although the WPPN introduces a requirement that will apply across a wide range of contracts, the information that must be included is limited.
The WPPN notes that there will be a phased approach for Welsh Central Government Bodies, beginning with contracts with a value around £25,000 plus VAT, although there is no guidance on what this phased approach will look like. There are no sanctions listed for failure to comply with the WPPN, but following the WPPN represents best practice. It is advisable for all contracting authorities in Wales to review their procurement procedures in order to ensure that publication of the award on Sell2Wales is part of the standard process, regardless of the procurement route adopted. By incorporating the contract award notice publication as a routine part of their standard procurement processes (rather than on an “as applicable” basis), contracting authorities can mitigate the “mental load” for procurement teams by removing the need to determine whether to publish award information for individual contracts.
Although there may be concerns from some contracting authorities that publishing this information will lead to a material increase in challenges, in order to be successful such a challenge would still need to demonstrate a breach by the relevant contracting authority. The WPPN does not reduce contracting authorities’ discretion whether to advertise these below-threshold contract or introduce new requirements for the procurement process and therefore, a claimant is likely to face an uphill struggle to show that there has been an actionable breach.
If you would like to discuss this topic in more detail, please contact Angela Lovett, Senior Associate.