PPN 01/21 informs Contracting Authorities (CAs) of the options available when procuring in an emergency, which includes the ongoing response to COVID 19, and also sets out the commercial risks involved in making direct awards.
The PPN highlights the need for CAs to maintain a robust audit trail on all decisions and suggests CAs consider advertising, running an informal competition, and undertaking supplier due diligence to obtain better value for money.
Contracting authorities must still publish contract award notices on Find a Tender (FTS) / Contracts Finder as appropriate. This includes emergency procurements.
CAs may call off from an existing framework agreement or dynamic purchasing system as long as they are eligible to do so, however, they must still adhere to the procedure for awarding a call off contract as set out in the framework agreement. This means if a framework doesn’t allow for direct awards, such as the case with using a DPS, they must run a further competition and allow the minimum time for receipt of tenders.
Extending or modifying a contract under reg 72 is also referenced in the guidance, as long as the specific conditions are met. Again, CAs must publish this action on FTS and consider the commercial risks involved.
Using the open, restricted, or competitive dialogue procedures with accelerated timescales is also an option. These don’t require emergency circumstances for use, however, justification for reducing timeframes should still be given.
The other options to direct award where there’s no competition, or due to reasons of extreme urgency carry much stricter conditions, and CAs considering these options should refer to the full guidance in the PPN.
On a final cautionary note, CAs should consider the extent to which issues related to Covid are now foreseeable, and therefore whether the urgency exemption can be properly justified.
Customer enquiries related to PPN 01/21 should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org