The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) have released the latest details of complaints received from Suppliers via their Public Procurement Review Service.

The service was previously call the ‘Mystery Shopper Service’ and allows Suppliers to raise complaints about procurements and payments related to customers across the Public Sector and Government. Each of the complaints are then reviewed and responded to. In the interests of transparency, all complaints and investigations are published. To avoid any recriminations, the complainents name is withheld.

The results across the board show that most complaints are lower for 2019 than 2018, particularly in Procurement Process, the biggest complaint type is now Payment which has grown by 63% on the on the previous year. Generally this refers to invoices not being settled in 30 days, something that the Government has set its sights on reducing.

When we break down the complaints by Sector, we see an increase in the number of complaints received by the Health sector.

The figures will be skewed to the number of organisations in each Sector plus the implications of procurement activity in each Sector, however it is good news that generally the complaints are dropping. Overall the number has dropped by 14% from 2018 to 2019.

Payments make the largest number of complaints, followed by Procurement Process and Procurement Strategy. These can usually be summarised as late payments, unfair procurements and procurements that could be structured in a better fashion.

The volume of Technology and Transparency complaints show that these are generally not significant.

Looking at the Procurement Strategy Complaints, these are more numerous in Local Government, although Central Government is a close second. The biggest topics for complaints were the Tendering and Financial requirements for Bidders. Those that complained felt that they were being unfairly excluded from bidding for a contract.

The vast majority of complaints for payments were made against the Health Sector organisations with over 72% of all complaints being directed to NHS Trusts. Whether this was due to poor administration or a lack of funds is unclear. The next significant was Local Government at 13%, but the other sectors have payments under control..

Complaints over Procurement Process fell into three main camps; Evaluation, Advertisement and Feedback. The advertisement of opportunities is always a difficult area. With over 180 procurement portals in the Public Sector, monitoring is a challenge. Greater and better use of Contracts Finder should be encouraged to ensure transparency of procurements. Basic details, such as the name of the organisation and what they want to purchase should be mandatory.

Evaluation and Feedback is essential information for Suppliers. It should be mandatory that every procurement is open and honest plus adequate feedback provided on request. Sadly, this is not always the case as the complaints show.


If you have a concern regarding a Procurement, then register your complaint by sending an email to publicprocurementreview@cabinetoffice.gov.uk or by telephoning the helpdesk on 0345 010 3503.

Post expires at 10:00am on Wednesday August 19th, 2020