Introduction to the Corporate Procurement Unit
The Corporate Procurement Unit is part of the Finance and Corporate Services Directorate. The role of the unit is to provide strategic advice and support to all Directorates within the Authority, and to ensure a consistent approach to procurement across a wide range of supplies, services and works.
The emphasis on procurement has increased in recent years, and this is demonstrated by a clear recognition and commitment from Elected Members and the Chief Executive of the importance of effective strategic procurement. This incorporates the need to continuously improve the value for money achieved on all supplies, services and works procured, by balancing cost, quality, sustainability and performance.
What is Procurement?
"Procurement is the process of acquiring goods, works and services, covering both acquisition from third parties and from in-house providers. The procurement process spans the whole life cycle from identification of needs, through to the end of a services contract or the end of the useful life of an asset. It involves options appraisal and the critical 'make or buy' decision." (National Procurement Strategy for Local Government)
Put simply, procurement is about the purchase of the goods, services and works that are needed to enable the Council to deliver services to the people in the County Borough. The Council is a major buyer, spending around £180 million per year on a wide range of supplies, services and works.
How we Buy
Each of the Council's departments is responsible for the procurement of the supplies and services they need. The Corporate Procurement Unit help manage these activities by providing a central coordinating and advisory role.
For example, although local schools make their own procurement decisions, they are encouraged to follow the Council's procurement procedures and to use the corporate contracts in place.
Increasingly, the Corporate Procurement Unit is looking to deliver and improve our services through collaboration with other public sector bodies. Examples of this are:
Neath Port Talbot Council is one of the customer organisations of the National Procurement Service for Wales, which has been setup promote collaboration in purchasing across the Welsh Public Sector.
We also use a range of other national purchasing arrangements through Crown Commercial Services, who procure on behalf of Central Government and the wider UK Public Sector.
What we Buy
Given the diverse nature of our services, requirements are varied, ranging from low value, high volume purchases such as stationery and office supplies, through to high value capital works and other complex projects.
The following list of procurement categories should provide an idea of the types of procurement that the Council regularly undertakes.
- General Office Needs and Supplies
- Professional Services
- Highways, Building and Construction
- ICT and Mobile Phones
- Energy and Utilities
- Social Services
- Facilities Management
- Food and Drink
Our Procurement Procedures and Regulations
As a public sector organisation we have a duty to operate in an open, fair and transparent way, allowing the market freedom of opportunity to trade with us. Our procedures for procurement are known as 'Contract Procedure Rules'. These are important as they help to:
- Give a legal and auditable framework to our procurement activities
- Obtain value for money services for the public
- Ensure we comply with the law governing the spending of public money
- Protect our staff and members from undue criticism or allegations of wrongdoing.
Here is a summary of our main procurement procedures (unless the purchase is made through one of our corporate contracts or via public sector frameworks):
- For purchases under £10,000, contracts may be awarded directly to a Supplier, whilst ensuring value for money for the Authority;
- For purchases between £10,000 and £25,000, a minimum of three written quotations must be sought;
- For purchases over £25,000, tenders must be sought using a formal 'Invitation to Tender' document.
We also have a legal requirement to comply with the UK Public Contract Regulations 2015. This governs the way in which the public sector procurement process must be conducted for contracts over certain specified thresholds.
The thresholds are revised every two years. As of January 2020 these thresholds are £189,330 for Supplies and Services, and £4,733,252 for Works contracts.
The regulations are based on the following principles:
- Contracts that exceed the thresholds must be advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) so that all interested parties in member states have an equal opportunity to submit tenders.
- All enquiries must receive equal treatment in order to eliminate discrimination on the grounds of nationality of the contractor or the origin of the supplies, services or works; and
- All supplier selection, tendering and award procedures must involve the application of objective and transparent criteria.