Georgia Hawkes, the Head of Commissioning and Business Improvement,
introduced her report recommending changes to simplify the Contract
Procedure Rules in the Council’s Constitution, improve
compliance and manage procurement risk.
It was noted that:
·The simplification of the Contract Procedure Rules
was proposed following a recent review of procurement by Internal
Audit which identified some compliance issues and problems with
services not always following the correct procurement
processes. As part of the management
response to the Internal Audit report, the Council commissioned a
Procurement Consultant to review the Contract Procedure
·It was recognised, as part of this review, that the
current regulations and processes were more complicated than
necessary and that poor compliance was mainly due to lack of
awareness rather than malicious avoidance. It became clear that the parts of the Constitution
relating to procurement and contracts ought to be easier to
understand, so a number of changes were proposed, including
replacing some wording with flowcharts and removing any
duplication. The changes also gave rise
to a small number of changes to the Financial Procedure
·Simplification of the Contract Procedure Rules was
just one of the measures being taken to improve compliance with the
Council’s procurement processes.
For example, an easy to follow Purchasing Guide had been prepared
by the Procurement Consultant and the Procurement Team to help
Officers understand the correct processes and key Officers had been
trained on this.
·Whilst the majority of the proposed changes were to
simplify the wording of the Contract Procedure Rules, a few
additional changes to the Constitution were proposed as
Changing the levels at which contracts are required to be
Increasing the emphasis on the need for contracts to be signed
or sealed before commencement of works/services:
Removing the need for a risk assessment for all procurements
over £10k; and
Removing reference to the submission and opening of paper
Head of Legal Partnership advised the Committee that she wished to
amend recommendation 2 of the report to clarify that it was
proposed that the level for sealing of contracts for
non-construction projects be increased to £1m unless it was
deemed by her that a non-construction contract for a lower amount
required execution under seal.
response to questions by Members:
Head of Legal Partnership explained that:
·She was seeking delegated authority to review the
proposed revisions and incorporate appropriate changes to the
Constitution to ensure that works, goods and services were
appropriately commissioned and to undertake a cross-referencing
exercise with other sections of the document, including the Scheme
of Delegations, to ensure compliance with legislative requirements
and consistency, prior to Council approval.
·The new compulsory Procurement Plan ensured that
Legal Services were involved as required in the formulation of
contracts above £75k. The Council
already used standard contracts, but the Legal Services and
Procurement Teams were currently reviewing the standard contracts
to see if they needed to be updated.
They were also working on guidance for services on how to use
standard contracts ...
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