The ESPD was introduced as a new public sector requirement at the start of 2016, and means that buying organisations have to accept a completed ESPD from any suppliers that are bidding for contracts with them by law.
But what exactly does this mean for suppliers? Why do they need to submit the ESPD when tendering for procurement contracts? And how can it help to benefit their businesses in the long term?
All businesses are required to fill out a pre-qualification questionnaire when tendering for a procurement contract in the past. Now with the ESPD is a standardised questionnaire for all suppliers to complete to compete for contracts across Europe.
The ESPD is a form of self-certification, and requires suppliers to self-declare that they meet the necessary regularity criteria and have the commercial capability to meet the contract requirements. It also covers both the mandatory and discretionary exclusions that suppliers need to meet as part of their industry’s selection criteria.
Suppliers self-declare therefore there is no need to provide hard copy evidence of their policies or records until the final stages of the tendering process, with just the chosen business having to demonstrate their physical compliance with each requirement.
However, if the contracting authority deems it relevant and necessary, and has a good, justifiable reason for doing so, they can request access to other documents and policies earlier in the process.
How the ESPD can benefit suppliers
The ESPD enables suppliers to save a significant amount of time, money and resources than if they had to provide this every time they applied for a procurement contract.
Completion of the ESPD needs filling out just once before being sent off to any number of buyers, the administrative burden placed on suppliers is dramatically reduced, allowing them to focus more of their time and efforts on strengthening their business.
Currently, the ESPD can be submitted to buying organisations either in hard copy form, via fax or electronically, but the EU Commission is working on developing a new system that will be purely electronic. This will mean that all supplier data is gathered in one centralised system, enhancing compliance when it comes into force in April 2017.
At the moment, however, there may be a little bit of confusion about which self-certification documents suppliers need to fill in, as the Cabinet Office recently introduced its own standardised pre-qualification questionnaire on top of the ESPD via Crown Commercial Services (CCS).
The procurement industry is currently waiting on CCS to issue a revised version of this pre-qualification questionnaire, which is expected to mirror the ESPD. In the meantime, buying organisations are legally obliged to accept the document, so suppliers that fill it out have nothing to worry about.
If you’re still unsure about what’s required of your business, signing up for an Achilles Supplier Training Course, will equip you with a greater level of knowledge about the ESPD and other EU procurement regulations.