Eight reasons why framework agreements help to streamline public sector procurement
As a Registered Social Landlord (RSL) we understand that you are facing significant and challenging pressures emerging from the coronavirus pandemic, the Grenfell Tower enquiry, and the drive to achieve net zero carbon goals. While the government’s green paper promises to simplify public procurement in the future, there are already ways to access time saving purchasing routes that could also help you to build strategic relationships and deliver value to your business and your clients.
Increasingly, social housing landlords are turning to framework agreements to source trusted suppliers of products and services that have already been assessed according to compliant procurement regulations. Framework agreements can enable efficient access to high-quality brands at attractive prices, enabling you to deliver against your repair and maintenance objectives and focus on making future improvements. Our blog guides you through eight reasons to take a fresh look at framework agreements and evaluate whether your business could benefit from this streamlined purchasing approach.
Reason 1: Precious time
While changes may be on the horizon, you cannot afford to wait and need to make decisions now on the best ways to operate within the current system as you work to deliver your immediate objectives.
Framework agreements are already used extensively throughout the public sector enabling contract awards to be made more quickly and simply. Originally introduced around 15 years ago to ease the administration and cost burden of the Public Contracts Regulations (PCR), they have evolved to provide easier access to products and services for time-pressed clients.
These agreements are usually set up by a contracting authority within the public sector such as a council or housing association and are designed to meet the need for purchasing large volumes of goods or frequently used services as efficiently as possible. Suppliers that are invited join the framework have already been assessed and evaluated to ensure that they are able to provide the goods and services specified. The contracting authority sets the terms for these agreements and they usually run for four years.
Contract awards can be made without the need to run a full tender process although ‘mini competitions’ are possible within multi-supplier agreements. You have the option test the market through a mini-competition or can simply make a direct award in the interests of expediency.
Reason 2: Peace of mind built in
There are still those amongst the UK’s social housing providers who may be hesitant about accessing framework agreements, perhaps defaulting to full tender processes in the belief that this is the only way to ensure compliance with procurement law. In fact, framework agreements are fully compliant options that provide flexible access to the products and services on which you rely with a fast-track route to getting contracts in place.
Framework agreements enable you to enter the procurement process further along the journey without having to start from scratch. You can be confident that the products and services on offer will be high quality, reliable and appropriate for the needs of the social housing sector.
Agreements are usually operated by a framework provider which is a business that exists to provide professional and compliant procurement services for a sector or group of organisations or members. Once established, these umbrella-type agreements are usually opened up for access by peer organisations within the public sector, so the benefit is spread more widely across a range of clients.
Framework providers demonstrate high levels of probity when selecting and assessing brands and organising with their agreements. Their reputation depends on the ability of their chosen suppliers to deliver consistently against demanding performance measures.
Our blogs will continue next week with Reasons 3 & 4: How frameworks can be flexible to meet your needs.