BREXIT and The Repeal Bill: How will it effect public sector technology procurement and management?

Many IT Managers and IT suppliers are asking what impact the UK governments Great Repeal Bill will have on the way IT procurement works in the UK public sector.

IT managers within the UK public sector procure more than £4.6BN of IT goods and services. Currently within the UK all public-sector procurement is controlled by EU procurement directives. These directives comprise of EU regulations transposed in UK law which are designed to ensure transparent, fair and competitive public procurement across EU member states.

Now that Brexit has been triggered, will it allow public sector IT managers to alter the way the UK public sector procures its £4.6bn worth of IT goods and services.

What is the Great Repeal Bill?

The great repeal bill will be the legislation enacted to extract the UK from the European Communities Act (ECA) of 1972.

The Government has said that the Great Repeal Bill will contain delegated powers to enable the Government to ensure that any laws on the statute book that originate from the EU will “function sensibly” once the UK leaves the EU.

The Government has also said that the Bill will be designed to re-establish control over law-making by repealing the ECA and to provide some certainty over the content of the statute book during negotiation for exit from the EU.

David Davis, The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, stated; ‘by converting EU law into British law, we will give businesses and workers maximum certainty as we leave the European Union.  The same rules and laws will apply to them after Brexit as they did before. Any changes in the law will have to be subject to full scrutiny and proper Parliamentary debate’

Put simply the Great Repeal Bill converts existing law into UK law so that EU law ceases to apply and domestic law can take its place on the day of exit.

Hence it is highly likely that the Great Repeal Bill itself will not alter the current public sector IT procurement requirements.

The next stage: life after BREXIT

David Davis, has also stated that the new Bill “will convert existing law into domestic law, while allowing Parliament to amend, repeal, or improve any law after appropriate scrutiny and debate”. He explained that the Bill would convert the current EU law “pretty much – not quite – untouched into British law”. This, would mean that the enactment of the Great Repeal Bill would only be the start of the process, further primary and secondary legislation would then need to follow.

Once the UK has left the EU, the next stage would be for Government and Parliament to decide whether to keep any EU-derived law in UK domestic law.

What about WTO Rules?

As a current member of the EU the UK is also member signatory to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) plurilateral agreement on government procurement (or the ‘GPA’) which came into being on the 6th April 2014.

The WTO exists to promote free trade and prevent protectionist practices across world. The WTO agreement with the EU means that when the EU member states procure public sector contracts outside of the EU, equal rules and remedy based on the GPA procurement process apply.

Whilst there are differences between the current EU procurement regulations and the WTO agreement essentially the WTO agreement follows the same lines as the current EU public sector procurement regulations.

Hence in answer to the original question, it seems that Brexit and the Great Repeal Bill may not have much of an impact on public sector IT procurement and the procurement regulations for the foreseeable future.

But if the UK were to adopt the WTO GPA rules following Brexit, the differences in approach would mean alteration to much of the procurement processes that public sector organisations currently use. Without the availability of good supporting advice this could cause decision paralysis for public sector managers seeking to source new technology goods and services.

For more information of the Great Reform Bill see The Government’s White Paper, The United Kingdom’s exit from and new partnership with the European Union, published in January 2017.