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Francis Maude: Be prepared for these procurement reforms

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New government reforms based on Lord Young’s recommendations in his paper, Growing Your Business, are just months away. Local authorities have a pivotal role in their success.

We have already made progress and are now pushing even further to help small firms win more of the £230bn that the public sector spends every year on goods and services.

The reforms are good news – bringing more choice and competition, ensuring greater value and higher standards. Local authorities will need to prepare now so that they are ready when the legislation comes along.

We have been steadily addressing and removing barriers that historically have prevented small businesses from having a fair bite of the cherry. We are on track to deliver our aspiration of awarding 25% of central government procurement spend, by value, to small and medium-sized enterprises directly and through the supply chain, by 2015.

The government’s reforms include:

  • Removing pre-qualifying questionnaires (PQQs) for all low value contracts and standardising all others;
  • Increasing the visibility of opportunities by advertising tender opportunities through the refreshed Contracts Finder web portal;
  • Introducing prompt payment within 30 days all the way down a public sector contract supply chain. 

This will help level the playing field for all suppliers, provide more choice and ensure greater value and better services from heightened competition between suppliers.

Most of this legislation will come into effect within months and local authorities are encouraged to act quickly.

More legislation will follow next year, designed to make public sector procurement practice more streamlined and efficient, removing further barriers for small businesses.

A new and improved Contracts Finder

Since January 2011, Contracts Finder has proved to be a critical tool for suppliers, providing a single place for all public sector tenders to be advertised. 

We recognised the system needed updating to keep up with an ever-changing digital landscape. We listened to your feedback and made it easier to input your procurement opportunities. We also acted on supplier feedback by making the search tool more powerful and intuitive. The new version will launch in October and will also be accessible on mobiles and tablets.

The new solution will link to as many central government and local authority portals as technically possible and local authorities should check with their portal providers to find out how they will feed into this.

We encourage you all to act now. We can all play a role in supporting small businesses.

To keep updated, visit

Francis Maude, minister for the Cabinet Office


To take part in the September user testing of the new Contracts Finder, please contact the Crown Commercial Service on

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