Date Category
27th January 2022 Member Update

Many in the Higher Education sector will know that the PPN05/21 – The National Procurement Policy Statement – outlines new requirements for all contracting authorities. Many colleagues will now be considering developing and publishing their procurement pipeline. PPN05/21 requires contracting authorities to consider social value outcomes such as creating new business, jobs and skills; improving supplier diversity, innovation and resilience; and tackling climate change and reducing waste. All of this is a step in the right direction, should be manageable for many authorities, and really only reinforces the steps that the HE sector has taken already. This policy note comes ahead of the proposed sweeping changes to the procurement regulations and also requires contracting authorities to publish a commercial pipeline and benchmark their procurement capability (if benchmarking is of particular interest to you, you can catch up on our recent discussion panel here). For contracting authorities with spend over £200m, the changes take effect from April 2022, and for those with spend over £100m, it’ll be April 2023.

So What Exactly are Procurement Pipelines in Higher Education?
The Government has helpfully published a guidance document to help contracting authorities create and publish a commercial pipeline which can be found below.
Your pipeline acts as a forward look at potential commercial activity. It is a live document and can be updated as often as you want, but no less than every 6 months. It will require publication of potential activity even where funding hasn’t been secured.

What are the Headlines and How Onerous is this Going to Be?
• The good news is that creating a commercial pipeline for universities shouldn’t be onerous. Most of the information should already be available to you, but perhaps in different formats to what is required for publishing.
• It’s designed to help contracting authorities properly plan their resourcing capabilities, reduce contract extensions, stimulate market interest for future opportunities, and ensure transparency when going to market.
• It should look forwards by 18 months as a minimum but should go beyond this to publish what you might be ‘reasonably expected’ to procure in the next 3-5 years.

What is the ‘Minimum Viable Pipeline’ and What Needs to Go Into It?
The MVP outlines the specifics that should be published in your commercial pipeline. Some of these are ‘required’ and some are ‘best practice’. A lot of them are pretty basic such as ‘Business Area’, ‘Contract Title’, ‘Short Description,’ and ‘Commercial Strategy’. The commercial strategy requires information around whether the activity is a new requirement, a retender in the same or different scope, an extension or a contract amendment. It asks you to include several dates, some of which are ‘best practice’ and some of which are ‘required’, but it doesn’t require anything beyond which month and year in which the activity will take place.

Where Do We Publish the Pipeline Document?
It needs to be published on your website. Central Government and arm’s-length bodies (like museums) need to publish quarterly to the cabinet office, with some additional dates and information, but contracting authorities like universities are not subject to these additional publication rules. Unlike the requirements for publishing your Modern Slavery Statement, there is no stipulation on it being published in a particular area or place on your website -however, you should give it due visibility. Given the emphasis from PPN05/21 on benchmarking procurement capability, there is a thought that it will be ‘self-cleaning’ and standards will rise across the public sector when benchmarking is carried out.

If you would like support, advice or a forum to discuss your pipeline with colleagues, please contact SUPC Head of Category Management Jayne Thorn.