Last week, I covered what a DPS is (Dynamic Purchasing System, and not Damage per Second for the gamers amongst you!), and the benefits to both you and providers.

In this article, I’m going to give you the detail so you can go forth and multi-buy!

Warning…. technical list……

  • The DPS must be advertised, and there are sections on the Contract Notice that you would need to “tick” to state that you are establishing a DPS
  • The procurement principles still apply around equal and proportionate treatment and transparency – therefore however you plan on running the DPS must be detailed in the DPS Guidance/Instruction to Applicants Document
  • The process itself would be considered a two-stage restricted process, as follows:

Stage 1 is the initial setup stage, essentially the selection questionnaire

  • This must be open for a minimum of 30 days
  • Applications must be evaluated within 10 working days of receipt
  • Admission at this stage only requires a demonstration that the provider meets the minimum criteria, so award questions cannot be asked
  • There is no requirement for a standstill period
  • I would recommend you enable auto-scoring as far as possible

Once the initial Round under stage 1 is closed, the DPS will automatically re-open for further applications for its lifetime, and stage 2 would commence for the Contracting Authority

Stage 2 invites any further competition for individual contracts, once you have your list of providers

  • All providers in the relevant DPS category must be invited
  • You can select your own cost/quality split under each call-off (unless the DPS Guidance/Instruction to Applicants Document sets this out in stage 1
  • This stage has a minimum period of 10 days
  • There is no requirement for a standstill period
  • You must publish the relevant Award Notice(s) once the contract has been signed(these can be batched)

Now that we have the technical bits out of the way, let’s move on to some best-practice tips for anyone planning to set up a DPS:

  • Always ensure you detail your DPS procedure, call-off arrangements and scoring criteria clearly in your DPS Guidance/Instruction Document – once this is set out, you won’t be able to amend it. This also means you should ensure your time limits, selection criteria and barrier level for entry onto the DPS are realistic and proportionate; otherwise, you may find you end up with a great DPS, with no providers on it!
  • Ensure that Modification Notices are published as appropriate (i.e., to extend the DPS period of validity)
  • You need to consider who the “buyers” and key stakeholders are within the Contracting Authority and ensure they are on board with the DPS and subsequent call-off procedure. I’ve had conversations with Authorities before that think setting up and managing a DPS is a nightmare. I have found it is normally not the DPS procedure itself, but the lack of understanding before going to market, that causes a lack of engagement and buy-in
  • You should engage with the market before going live with a DPS, as well as during the initial Rounds, particularly if this is the first DPS within a certain marketplace. providers may not have any idea about how it will run, what it means for them, and what they can expect from it if they are successful in applying

That covers the current Regulations, but under the new Procurement Bill, DPS will become Dynamic Markets. Many of the points above remain the same, however, there will be some key differences, including:

  • They will be available for use with all types of goods, works and services, rather than being limited to commonly used purchases
  • Applications to join a DPS need to be considered within a “reasonable” period, rather than within 10 working days
  • The Bill looks to permit the charging of providers for being successful at further competition stage, similar to rebates on a Framework

One final thought from me is around Open Frameworks – these are only proposals under the Procurement Bill at this stage, but I wanted to highlight them as an alternative option to Dynamic Markets (come later in the year). The Bill proposes two types of Frameworks:

  • Closed Frameworks, which will be the same as under the current Regulations in terms of the maximum term of 4 years with no new entrants etc., and
  • Open Frameworks, which can be opened at certain points to new providers and must not be closed to the market for longer than 5 years
    • for open frameworks lasting over 3 years, new providers should be allowed to join the framework agreement at least once during its term
    • the maximum duration of an open framework agreement is to be 8 years
  • Call-off contracts can still be awarded either directly to a provider or following a mini-competition for both open and closed Frameworks

4C has lots of experience in public sector procurement and advising on strategic routes to market, Dynamic Purchasing Systems and upcoming changes relating to the Procurement Bill. To find out more about how 4C can help your organisation, please contact Mark Ellis