Pedro Telles and Albert Sánchez Graells Take On the New EU Procurement Directives

At the Wales Procurement Week event, we caught up with procurement lawyer and academic Pedro Telles. Originally from Portugal, he has been working at the Bangor University Institute of Competition and Procurement Studies, but recently moved to Swansea University (saving a 200 mile commute) as a senior lecturer in procurement law and related matters.

For reasons best known to themselves, Telles and his friend Albert Sánchez Graells from Leicester University have taken on a Herculean task. They have decided to both write a separate blog every day on their respective websites, each one addressing a single "Article" from the new EU Procurement Directives! (Here is Telles; and here is Graells).

Now as you no doubt know, there are (pause whilst author desperately tries to find copy of directives) no less than 94 Articles within the document, so even at one per day, this is going to take the guys ... er... quite a long time.

And these are not quick notes - they are thoughtful and often substantial articles - "we're spending an hour or two a day on this" said Telles. They are up to Regulation 28 as we write this, so you have plenty to catch up on. Telles has a very easy to read and non-legalistic style - here is a sample, part of his commentary on Regulation 28, which concerns the revised timescales for the restricted procedure.

Over the last decade the restricted procedure was by far the most popular procedure in the UK ... and it is the only EU country where the restricted procedure is more popular than the open. The problem with the restricted procedure is that the transaction and opportunity costs are higher than the alternative open procedure. Furthermore, adopting a selection stage where only the X best will be select makes life unduly difficult for smaller suppliers.

These problems for smaller suppliers are compounded by the reasonable easy access contracting authorities now have to shorten timescales: ask any small business what they think about having fewer days to prepare a request for participation or a tender and the answer will usually be a complaint. While I am in general in favour of shorter timescales, it is important to understand there are no free lunches and it implies tradeoffs.

It is noteworthy that while the Regulations (and the Directive...) offer tight timescales for economic operators to participate in public procurement, which can be understood in a world where everything moves faster, there are no similar obligations imposed on the contracting authorities to become more efficient and faster when undertaking procedures.

That's a good point - suppliers are going to be expected to move faster, but the Contracting Authority can still sit on bids for months if they feel like it.

Anyway, that is just a sample and by the time Telles and Sánchez Graells have finished, this will be a considerable and useful resource for public procurers. And although the material is by definition somewhat technical at times, it is accessible for practitioners and it should be essential reading for anyone interested in staying within EU and national rules, yet also getting the most flexibility possible out of the regulations in order to generate better results and performance.

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Voices (2)

  1. Paul Wright:

    Talking to delegates last week a number commented that they would like a time limit for Contracting Authorities to make a decision.

    Personally, I still like the Restricted procedure – if a smaller suppier cannot get through the PQQ do they really have a chance lf winning a contract in a single stage process?

  2. Dan:

    A small correction Peter – they’re actually reviewing the Public Contract Regulations 2015, which is the UK legislation derived from the EU directive. These include national rules on sub-ojeu procurements, so there are actually 122 of them to review. ‘Herculean’ doesn’t really do it justice!

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