Public Services > Central Government

CCS procurement policy will replace ‘PQQs’ with ‘standard selection questionnaires’

David Bicknell Published 30 September 2016

New SSQ has been introduced to simplify supplier selection process and give SMEs a better chance of competing on bids

 

The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has issued a procurement policy note that sets out how a revised standard selection questionnaire (SSQ) will replace the current standard pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ).

The note replaces previous guidance on supplier selection and PQQs in earlier procurement notes and requires public sector organisations to stop using the existing standard PQQ for the supplier selection stage of new procurements covered by the Public Contracts Regulations 2015.

Instead public bodies should start using the new SSQ and comply with guidance, process and the standard form in annexes such as guidance on the selection stage process, the standard selection questionnaire template, exclusion grounds and frequently asked questions.

The main change to the current process is that verification of the declarations, of both the exclusion grounds and the selection information, should only now take place with winning suppliers.

The SSQ has  been  developed  to  simplify the  supplier  selection  process  for  businesses,  in  particular  for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)  across the public sector. In developing the SSQ CCS has taken the opportunity to also make  the  questionnaire  compliant  with the  European  Single  Procurement  Document (ESPD), and amended the rules on the selection of suppliers. 

Supplier  selection  is  a  key  stage  in  public  procurement  where information is gathered and assessments made of prospective  bidders'    credentials,    before    considering    tenders.   It includes    gathering   information   about   companies'   track   records,   financial  credentials,  whether  they  have  been  involved  in  corruption and whether  they meet various selection criteria.

Although the new process  of  supplier  selection  is  very  similar  to  the  old  one,  it also introduces  some  new  features  and  a  new  form.  According to the CCS, it “modifies  and  modernises  a  longstanding  procurement  practice,  and  should  not  be  seen as a major shift in the fundamental approach of supplier selection.”

The SSQ asks   potential   suppliers   to initially simply ‘self-declare’ their status against the exclusion grounds and selection questions. 

Organisations will be obliged to accept self-certification from suppliers in other European states via an ESPD template, including ones in different formats, the procurement note said.

It is understood that even in the event of a UK ‘Brexit’ from the EU, most if not all of the thinking behind public procurement will remain largely unchanged.

Tim Williams, managing director of eProcurement specialist Millstream Associates said, “These new guidelines bring England and Wales into line with Scotland, which has already take action.  The first two sections of the standard Selection Questionnaire align with questions asked in the European Single Procurement Document (ESPD). The ESPD is also designed to be a completely online system so this update to the SSQ is an interim step before it moves online.

“The idea behind the new questionnaire is to standardise the qualification process for all suppliers wherever they are based in Europe. Moving to self-declaration rather than having to provide 3 years accounts, insurance and QA certificates etc, will also make it easier both for suppliers and for public bodies who previously would evaluate and then store large volumes of data.”







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