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RFQs: Essential Changes in the Procurement Act 2023

Written by Thornton & Lowe


Jun 14, 2024

In the modern procurement landscape, the Procurement Act 2023 aims to refine and enhance the framework within which public entities and suppliers, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), engage in the submission of tenders and Requests for Quotations (RFQs). Understanding these changes is crucial for entities aiming to navigate the complexities of public procurement successfully, ensuring they meet key performance indicators (KPIs) and leverage opportunities for SMEs and small businesses more effectively.

What is an RFQ?

An RFQ, or Request for Quotation, is a procurement tool used by companies to invite suppliers to submit competitive bids for the supply of specific goods or services. This process is crucial for organisations that require a steady supply of standard products or services, as it allows them to compare prices and select the best vendor based on predefined criteria.

Definition and context

Typically, an RFQ is used when the requirements are clear and the focus is on obtaining the best price for goods or services that are often commoditised. Unlike an RFP (Request for Proposal), which may include more comprehensive questions about service and capabilities, an RFQ concentrates on detailed price quotations, ensuring suppliers meet the specified needs at the lowest cost.

Components of an RFQ

The essential components of an RFQ include a detailed description of the goods or services, quantity requirements, delivery schedules, pricing, and payment terms. It may also outline the evaluation criteria and submission guidelines, which help suppliers to understand exactly what is expected and how their bids will be assessed.

Types of RFQs

There are several types of RFQs, including open bids, where bids are publicly opened; sealed bids, which are opened privately after submission; invited bids, sent only to selected suppliers; and reverse auctions, where suppliers compete by offering lower prices in real-time. Each type serves different procurement strategies and objectives, depending on the company's specific requirements and the nature of the goods or services needed.

Importance of RFQs in modern procurement

Standardisation and simplification

RFQs streamline the procurement process by setting clear expectations through detailed specifications, quantities, and delivery timelines. This standardisation minimises the risk of receiving unrealistic quotes, thereby enhancing the efficiency of the procurement cycle. Simplifying the process through a unified format, such as a pricing template, allows for easier comparison of bids, ensuring that all submissions are evaluated on a consistent basis.

Competitive pricing

The competitive nature of RFQs drives suppliers to offer their best prices in order to secure contracts. This environment not only fosters cost savings but also ensures that buyers receive the best value for their investment. By inviting multiple suppliers to participate, RFQs create a marketplace where suppliers are motivated to submit competitive bids, which can lead to significant financial advantages for the buyer.

Ensuring quality

RFQs are crucial for maintaining high standards of quality. By requiring suppliers to meet detailed technical specifications, buyers can assess each supplier's ability to deliver goods or services that meet their exact needs. This process helps in selecting the most suitable supplier, ensuring that quality is not compromised in the pursuit of competitive pricing. Additionally, the transparency and clarity provided by RFQs reduce misunderstandings and promote fair competition.

Impact of regulatory changes on RFQs

The Procurement Act 2023 introduces several pivotal changes that directly influence the use of RFQs within public procurement. Key among these is the enhancement of framework flexibility. Previously, once a framework was established, new suppliers could not join until it was re-tendered. Now, the act allows for frameworks to extend beyond the typical four years if necessary and introduces open frameworks that can be amended and reopened to new suppliers at defined intervals.

Innovations in procurement frameworks

The introduction of open frameworks under the Procurement Act 2023 marks a significant shift towards more dynamic procurement methods. These frameworks are designed to be more adaptable, allowing for periodic market re-entry, which is crucial for accommodating innovations and evolving market conditions. This change is poised to benefit suppliers by providing more opportunities to participate in government contracts throughout the lifespan of a framework.

Dynamic markets and RFQs

Replacing the older Dynamic Purchasing Systems (DPS), the new dynamic markets allow for greater flexibility. These markets enable continuous supplier entry and the procurement of a broader range of goods and services, beyond just off-the-shelf items. This adjustment is expected to enhance the competitive environment, thereby increasing efficiency and potentially leading to better value for money in public procurement.

Ensuring compliance with new procurement regulations

Understanding the changes

With the introduction of the Procurement Regulations 2024, you must ensure all new agreements post-implementation comply with these standards. It's crucial to recognise that existing contracts under the Public Contracts Regulations (PCR) 2015 will remain unaffected until they expire or are replaced. This dual compliance framework mandates a clear understanding of both old and new regulations.

Adapting procurement strategies

Prepare early by reviewing existing contracts that will extend beyond the new regulations' commencement. This preparation involves assessing your current procurement strategies and adjusting them to align with the forthcoming changes. Consider the structural readiness of your organisation, from commercial activities to system capabilities, ensuring they are robust enough to support the new regulatory environment.

Training and preparation

Leverage resources like the Transforming Public Procurement Knowledge Drops provided by the Cabinet Office. These training modules are crucial for both buyers and suppliers to understand the regulatory shifts. Additionally, structured training programs should be rolled out across your organisation to ensure everyone is well-informed and can navigate the new procurement landscape effectively.

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