House of Commons Library

Public procurement and contracts

Published Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Procurement accounts for about a third of public spending in the UK. This briefing looks at the legislation and guidance that governs procurement, and government policy in this area. It also looks at problems with procurement and contracts, and offers some pointers on how to find out more about particular contracts.

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Much procurement is governed by EU principles and rules, intended to ensure that the EU public procurement market is open and competitive and that suppliers are treated equally and fairly.  The UK also has its own procurement legislation, as well as guidance intended to ensure that public money is spent well.  

Public sector procurement and contract management are often in the news when a contract goes wrong or a supplier fails.  There have been various examples of problems with procurement, contract management or dependence on particular suppliers.  The government has been working to improve its commercial and contract management capabilities. 

Procurement can be used to promote wider policies – this briefing paper discusses government policies to promote value for money, small businesses, social value and local growth.

Finally, the paper looks at responding to constituent requests relating to procurement and explains how to find out more about particular contracts.

Commons Briefing papers SN06029

Authors: Lorna Booth; Joe Farnell

Topics: Public administration, Public expenditure, Small businesses

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