The Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) is the publication in which all tenders from the public sector that are valued above a certain financial threshold must currently be published. But when the Brexit transition period ends at 11pm on 31 December, the OJEU will cease to apply to UK organisations.
At that point, the UK Government’s Find a Tender Service (FTS) will go live and must be used for all new procurements that start after 11pm, 31 December, in place of OJEU and Tenders Electronic Daily (TED) − the European public procurement journal.
What does this mean for suppliers?
Suppliers need to ensure that they are monitoring (and any watch service they might use is ready to pick up) contract opportunities and notices from FTS from 31 December onwards.
Suppliers should register on the FTS website once it goes live but it is worth noting that if you already have a registration for the existing Contracts Finder service then you do not need to register again, your details will be ported across and will work to log in to FTS when it goes live on 31 December.
What does this mean for public bodies?
This means that all PINs, contract notices, contract award notices, VEAT notices, modification notices, amendment notices and corrigenda relating to procurements commencing after 31 December must be published on the FTS website instead of OJEU.
Public bodies should register at www.contractsfinder.service.gov.uk/organisation/register
What about procurements already started before 31 December?
The requirement to use FTS applies to new procurement processes only. If a process has started (by publishing an OJEU notice) before 31 December, then all subsequent notices relating to that process (e.g. the contract award notice at the end of the process) must still be published in OJEU even if their publication date is after 31 December.
The Cabinet Office has requested that all notices published in OJEU after 31 December relating to pre-existing processes are also published on FTS. This is so that UK based suppliers only have to look in one place for notices, but this is not a legal requirement and public bodies must ensure that the notices are published first to OJEU before FTS.
What about Contracts Finder?
We already have a UK Government portal for the publication of notices advertising public sector opportunities, in England this is called Contracts Finder, and there are other dedicated public sector portals for MOD, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Public bodies must continue to use the Contracts Finder service alongside the FTA. This creates the somewhat obscure position that, in the case of over-threshold contracts where the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 require it, a public body must publish a notice on two Government run portals running concurrently and accessible by the same suppliers. The difference is that the Contracts Finder service (and its counterparts in devolved administrations) do not cover the whole of the UK as one service, so a UK-wide service was needed.
I already use an e-Sender service – what will happen?
Contracting authorities that are currently working with a third party eSender to submit notices to OJEU will be able to continue to use them provided that the eSender successfully completes integration work to post notices to FTS. A list of eSenders who have successfully completed integration work has been published by the Cabinet Office here.
For further information on how public procurement will change after the Brexit transition period look out for our podcast – Procurement: Life After Brexit – coming soon.