Coronavirus: Contracts

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 1st September 2020.

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Photo of Lord Strasburger Lord Strasburger Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will list the contracts awarded in 2020 for the supply of (1) personal protective equipment, and (2) other COVID-19 related products or services, with companies that had no previous experience of supplying those products or services; and in each case identify (a) how the supplier was selected, (b) what due diligence was performed to determine the supplier’s ability to perform the contract, (c) who carried out that due diligence, (d) how value for money was assessed, and (e) who was the senior official or minister to authorise the order.

Photo of Lord Strasburger Lord Strasburger Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether at any time in 2020 they had a preferred list of suppliers of COVID-19 related products and services; and, if so, what checks were carried out to ensure that no conflicts of interest existed between those companies and ministers or special advisers.

Photo of Lord Bethell Lord Bethell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

Online guidance on how contracting authorities should respond to coronavirus was published on March 18. Public authorities are allowed to procure goods, services and works with extreme urgency in exceptional circumstances using regulation 32(2)(c) under the Public Contract Regulations 2015. Available options include a direct award due to extreme urgency and direct award due to absence of competition or protection of exclusive rights.

Over 1,000 purchase orders have been awarded to suppliers for COVID-19 related work, the majority through a direct award. There is no single consideration such as previous experience as to whether a supplier is added to the supply chain. The supplier will be evaluated by Departmental officials on their financial standing, compliance with minimum product specifications and ability to perform the contract. To provide a validated assessment of solely the previous experience for each of the suppliers on each of these contracts would involve disproportionate cost. Contracts are awarded by the appropriate Departmental accounting officer, an official, in line with Department’s terms and conditions which include clauses for contract management to assess performance and value for money throughout the lifetime of the contract.

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