Procurement Policy Note (PPN) 03/23 introduced a new Selection Questionnaire (SQ), which was due to be implemented by 1 April 2023 and which replaced the SQ issued with PPN 08/16. The implementation date has now been delayed until 1 June 2023 to allow time for the revised SQ to be incorporated into procurement processes and e-procurement tools.
The revised SQ is still structured in three parts:
- Part 1 – covers basic information about the potential supplier
- Part 2 – constitutes self-declarations of whether (or not) any of the exclusion grounds apply
- Part 3 – asks for evidence and self-declarations of economic and financial standing and for self-declarations relating to technical and professional ability to deliver that particular contract.
What has changed?
The broad structure of the SQ has not changed, however there have been some amendments and further guidance provided which reflects on feedback received by the Cabinet Office. The questions are now also clearly set out with an "M" (for mandatory) for "O" (for optional), to indicate which questions contracting authorities can decide whether to include.
There is also greater clarity on the changes that contracting authorities can make to the wording of questions. Part 1 and 2 questions must be included in the supplier selection questions but the Part 3 questions only need to be used where it is relevant and appropriate. The wording of the questions in any part may be rephrased to fit with e-procurement system styles provided that the meaning of the question stays the same. There is an expectation that the Part 3 questions will not be deviated from for supplies and services procurement but, if this is the case the deviation (i.e. changes to wording or additional questions which are not specific to the individual procurement) must be reported to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The revised SQ provides clarity on the meaning of "relying on another organisation" to meet the selection criteria. The guidance explains that this is where a potential supplier relies on the technical and professional ability and/or the economic and financial standing of another organisation to be able to meet the selection criteria in Part 3. If this is the case then the organisation relied upon must complete Parts 1 and 2 of the SQ.
Amendments have been made to the financial questions and checks. These include the requirement for the Contract Tiering Tool to be used by central government to classify the contract (gold, silver or bronze) and the requirement to use The Sourcing Playbook.
New questions have also been introduced in relation to health and safety and data protection. The revised SQ now includes some new questions which align with recent PPNs such as healthy supply chain management and payment systems (PPN 08/21), carbon reduction (PPN 06/21) and modern slavery risk (PPN 02/23). These new questions only apply to central government contracts and this is clearly indicated.
For more information please visit the gov.uk website.
This article was also authored by Helen Mills, Projects and Procurement Officer at Womble Bond Dickinson.