As of April 2023, the Selection Questionnaire (SQ) has undergone several updates that School Business Professionals should be aware of. These changes will affect the documentation that schools need to use to procure goods and services from suppliers when needing to run a process compliant with the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (PCR2015). So it’s important to understand how they may impact your school or Trust’s procurement processes.
The SQ is a tool used by schools, Trusts and Contracting Authorities to assess the suitability of potential suppliers. It is used as part of a ‘Restricted Procedure’ to gather information about a supplier’s financial stability, legal compliance, and technical capability, among other things. The SQ is typically used as a pre-qualification stage in a procurement process, with only suppliers that meet the requirements of the questionnaire being shortlisted to the follow on Invitation to Tender stage.
One of the most significant changes to the SQ is the inclusion of new questions relating to environmental sustainability. It’s important to note that these questions are only mandatory for Central Government organisations (which schools and academies/Trusts are not). However, schools and Trusts are increasingly focused on reducing their environmental impact, and these new questions reflect that priority. Suppliers can now be asked about their environmental policies and practices, including their use of sustainable materials, energy efficiency, and waste management. So the inclusion of these questions may well be of benefit to your school or Trust if you have a real focus in this area.
In addition to these new questions, the SQ has also been updated to reflect changes in legislation and best practice. There are also a number of updates to the questions around Mandatory and Discretionary Exclusions.
It is notable that there are new questions which are mandatory for Central Government organisations but optional for schools, academies or Trusts. There are questions relating to Data Protection, which is a legal requirement for all organizations that handle personal data. There are also updated questions relating to health and safety, which reflect changes in legislation and guidance, prompt payment, carbon reduction, apprenticeships, steel in major projects (not sure any of you will need this one!) supplier past performance and modern slavery.
It’s important for School Business Professionals to familiarise themselves with these updates to the SQ, as they will impact the way that schools and Trusts procure goods and services from suppliers when using a process compliant with the PCR2015. Schools and Trusts will need to ensure that their procurement processes are aligned with the new requirements of the SQ, and that they are asking suppliers the right questions in order to assess their suitability. Ultimately, as well as ensuring your procurement is compliant it should also result in a better outcome.
In summary, the SQ has undergone several updates in April 2023, including new questions relating to environmental sustainability and diversity and inclusion, as well as updates to reflect changes in legislation and best practice. School Business Professionals should familiarize themselves with these updates in order to ensure that their procurement processes are aligned with the new requirements of the SQ.
The new template SQ was published as Procurement Policy Note (PPN 03/23) and can be found by clicking here.