With the end of the year almost in sight, the deadline (31
January 2006) for implementing the procurement directives for both
utilities and the public sector is fast approaching. The Scottish
Executive consultation on the draft regulations has now closed and
although the new regulations are designed to implement consolidating
directives, there are a number of new provisions being introduced.

One of the key themes in the new regulations is electronic
procurement. There are specific provisions in both the draft utilities
regulations and the draft public sector regulations in relation to
electronic auctions and reduced timescales where information is sent or
made available electronically.

There are also new provisions in the draft public sector regulations
introducing the new competitive dialogue procedure and formalising the
existing rules on framework agreements.

In the draft utilities regulations there are new provisions which
allow utilities to seek an exemption from the procurement rules where
they operate in a competitive market and also, to introduce dynamic
purchasing systems.

The draft regulations are generally consistent with the directives.
However, there are a number of issues which will need to be addressed
by the Scottish Executive before the regulations are laid before the
Scottish Parliament.

Perhaps the most significant issue which needs to be addressed is
the scope of the regulations. Neither the draft utilities regulations
or the draft public sector regulations explain how a body determines
whether the Scottish or English and Welsh rules apply e.g where a body
based in Scotland is awarding a contract to be carried out in England
(in whole or in part), or a contract is being awarded which will be
carried out in Scotland but by an body based in England.

The Scottish Executive is currently considering responses to the consultation and will publish a response in due course.

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