Selling through Crown Commercial Service: How we’re making it easier for suppliers of all sizes to supply to the public sector
Sarah Morris is Head of Commercial Policy Implementation at Crown Commercial Service (CCS). She works to ensure that CCS agreements are compliant with government policies. In this blog she explains how CCS is working to support businesses to become suppliers to the public sector with minimum bureaucracy.
CCS is the UK’s biggest procurement organisation in the UK. Our purpose is to help the UK public sector get better value for money (best value being the best quality for the right price) from its procurement of common goods and services. Our customers - around 20,000 - can buy from across 83 categories of common goods and services. These range from electricity, storage solutions, research and cleaning services to new and emerging technology products and services that support the UK National Space Strategy.
CCS has a clear and driven focus on making it easier for businesses to bid for work. We understand how important it is to have a diverse range of suppliers working with the public sector. To achieve this our bidding process aims to stimulate innovation, foster healthy competition and bring the right market expertise to offer customers quality and value without disadvantaging or compromising suppliers. We work to do that in a number of ways;
- publishing details of upcoming procurements on our website so that suppliers can plan what they want to bid for
- using data and insight in our category strategies to understand what our customers need and what the supply market can offer which enables us to write bid packs that make it clear to suppliers what the requirements are
- reviewing questions from suppliers at the clarification stage to provide insight into how well we have written the bid pack and using this to continuously improve
- investigating challenges thoroughly, working to resolve them quickly and taking the learnings to understand how we could do something differently in the future
- asking suppliers to answer questions about their supply chain management and tracking systems. Those who can’t demonstrate a fair and responsible approach can be excluded from bidding.
- implementing the Prompt Payment Policy which means that, from April 2021, companies that fail to pay 85% of their invoices within 60 days will be excluded from bidding for major central government contracts. This supports smaller businesses in their supply chain.
Our SME action plan on gov.uk explains how we are simplifying our public procurement processes. We know that suppliers spend a lot of time reading and completing bid documents and that these can be complex and long, which can be problematic for those organisations which are too small to have in-house procurement knowledge. To help to address this we have developed a new CCS standard template for framework contracts for common goods and services. The Public Sector Contract (PSC) is shorter which makes it simpler to use and easier to understand what is required, in terms of the bid and rules of engagement. An updated version has recently been published that has capped liabilities on GDPR (it was previously uncapped) further reducing the barriers for SMEs.
Other ways we aim to support suppliers is by publishing information and guides on our website and using commercial agreements that are easy to enter at any time. Our Buy and Supply pages have guidance for SME’s about bidding for public sector contracts as well as where to look for opportunities and how bidding works. It sets out what you need to do to register to get alerts and respond to opportunities and the process of supplying through CCS.
And finally, our Dynamic Purchasing Systems (DPSs) offer the ability for suppliers to self-certify making joining quick and simple at any point through the life of the DPS. In addition DPSs have unlimited numbers of suppliers offering buyers unrestricted access to smaller suppliers and they are not limited to a maximum term of four years. We currently have 25 of these open that cover a wide range of varied services, such as learning and training, emerging technology products and service, geospatial services, research and insights, financial services, transport, utility and fuels, construction professional services and building cleaning.
Visit crowncommercial.gov.uk to find out more.
Join Crown Commercial Service at this year’s Smart Asset & Estate Management Conference on December 8th 2022 at the QEII Centre in London. Smart 2022 is the ideal place for all public sector property professionals to get the latest policy updates and discover new initiatives around estate management, sustainable buildings, smarter working and the technology that enables them.