Public Contracts Regulations 2015 - Regulation 14

Regulation 14 - Research and development services

Regulation 14 extends the application of Part 2 to some research and development contracts, which traditionally have been excluded from public procurement. This extension only applies if three conditions are met. First, the contracts need to classified under specific Common Procurement Vocabulary (CPV) codes. Second, if the benefit accrues to the contracting authority. Third, the price is fully borne by the contracting authority. Straight away, one issue with the draft is the reference to "contracting authority" only and not contracting authorities. This may indicate that if more than one contracting authority is involved, then the extension would not be applicable.

According to the CPV database these are the R&D contracts which are classified as purely research and development. In fact, 73000000-2 is the CPV code for "Research and Experimental Services". Any other R&D contract that is not covered by those CPVs (or one that is classified differently on purpose...) will not be subject to the rules of Part 2.

The second requirement imposes a need for the benefit of the contract to accrue exclusively to the contracting authority. In my view this does not make a lot of sense as the importance of the contract for the Internal Market should not be dependent of the subsequent use. In fact, this requirement precludes the application of the Regulations to contracts where the benefits are extended to different organisations. It also allows central purchasing bodies to be used for procuring research and development services on the behalf of another contracting authority.

A similar comment can be made about the third requirement: if price is paid up by two or more contracting authorities or a central purchasing body is used, then there are grounds to justifiably take such procurement outside the rules of Part 2.

The Regulation 14 extension only covers contracts that comply with the remaining Public Contracts Regulations 2015 requirements of application, such as the thresholds. Therefore, a £50,000 R&D contract classified with the 73000000-2 CPV code, paid in full by the contracting authority and for its exclusive benefit will not be covered by the extension.