Why early engagement is still as important as ever

The Coronavirus crisis means that procurement is facing very challenging times. In some cases, the need to respond quickly to emergency needs arising from the pandemic has led buyers across the UK public sector to use either direct award (procurement without competition or Accelerated Procedures. These reduce the timeframes for OJEU procurement and allow buyers to undertake procurement in areas of urgency where non-competitive actions are not appropriate.

In a time like this, buyers want to work with innovative, reliable, and trustworthy suppliers. Early engagement can support buyers that need to carry out an accelerated procedure, where quick decisions about suppliers must be made.

Learn more about how your business can engage earlier with defence buyers and support the marketplace during this time.


What is accelerated procurement?

During this time, if a public sector organisation has an urgent requirement for goods, services or works due to COVID-19, they must procure this requirement under the Public Contracts Regulations 2015. Accelerated procurement measures can include:

  • direct award due to extreme urgency
  • direct award due to the absence of competition or protection of exclusive rights
  • call off from an existing framework agreement or dynamic purchasing system
  • call for competition using a standard procedure with accelerated timescales
  • extending or modifying a contract during its term

Regulation 32 deals with the direct award due to extreme urgency or direct award due to the absence of competition or protection of exclusive rights and can be used when “for reasons of extreme urgency brought about by events unforeseeable by the contracting authority, the time limits for the open or restricted procedures or competitive procedures with negotiation cannot be complied with” – which is relevant to the current Coronavirus crisis.

The use of accelerated procurement procedures can significantly reduce the standard OJEU timescales. While this is helpful to buyers procuring in an emergency, it can be challenging for suppliers as they have much less time in which to craft a response.


Can your organisation reach out to defence buyers during this time?

Yes, in fact throughout the Coronavirus pandemic the UK government has been actively encouraging suppliers that can offer support in several areas to reach out to them.

The military is doing everything it can to protect its troops and the nation in the fight against Coronavirus. The military’s response to COVID-19 is ongoing, and defence bodies are ensuring that every measure is being taken to ensure its personnel are protected from the virus.

A £1 million fund to fast-track innovation to aid the Armed Forces in the fight against COVID-19 was launched by the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) at the beginning of April. DASA’s Director of Defence Innovation Clare Cameron praised the defence community’s “rapid response”. In a statement she said:

“Innovators and industry have stepped up to the plate with a remarkable response to the Coronavirus outbreak. This investment will unleash the power of innovation to rapidly help us in the national effort against Coronavirus.”

Remember that your organisation does not need to wait until an opportunity is published to get in touch with a buyer. Early engagement with buyers is a crucial element in pursuing a successful procurement strategy in the defence sector for all procurement professionals. It is especially important at a time when buyers are using accelerated procurement, especially direct award. Early engagement could put your business in a favourable position during accelerated procurements as the buying organisation will already know and have a relationship with your business.

The Ministry of Defence actively encourages early engagement. In its ‘Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Action Plan’ early engagement is highlighted as a key action for organisations seeking to develop procurement strategies that work. By establishing a relationship before the defence contract has been published, potential suppliers will be aware of just what the buyer wants and have a strong understanding of other key requirements including quantity, quality and the amount of time the goods, works or services will be needed for.


Discover the benefits of early engagement with DCI

Early engagement allows discussions to take place that will support your business to write an attractive tender bid later – which is key to being awarded the contract, whatever goods, works or services your business offers.

If your organisation would like to get involved in the national Coronavirus response, DCI’s tools, resources, and market intelligence can help you make this happen. DCI hosts the largest defence contracts database in Europe, and we provide organisations of all specialisms with defence contract opportunities that are relevant to your business and desired undertaking.

In these unprecedented times, new and existing suppliers in defence procurement will play an instrumental role in driving public services, local authorities, and the Government itself forward. If your organisation can support the UK’s Coronavirus response, get in touch with the DCI team today.

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