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UK Excludes e-invoicing standard from provisional regulations

UK Government officials have excluded an e-invoicing standard from a set of illustrative regulations published yesterday. These regulations covers reforms towards mandatory e-invoicing in e-procurement due to the new EU E-procurement directive.

The government said that it wanted to make sure that any new regulations do not have the opposite effect of promoting and increasing the take-up of e-invoicing to improve efficiency:

  • “The imposition of an e-invoicing standard in the public sector that has not been agreed as acceptable, could impose costs and burdens on public bodies, suppliers and service providers.
  • “For example, care would need to be taken to ensure that any UK rules do not undermine the steps that organisations have already taken towards e-invoicing, or require significant system changes both when the regulations come in and once the European standard has been adopted.”

Consultation

In April, the European Parliament and council agreed a directive on e-invoicing in public procurement, and the UK plans to adopt it by May 2017. It recently undertook a consultation. Some of the results are:

  • There are still found barriers to e-invoicing, including a lack of understanding about the costs of procuring e-invoicing software and technology, the technological capability of suppliers and the public sector, integration costs and internal resources.
  • These barriers could be overcome by using free-to-use software and web-based systems that allow quick upload from both desktop and mobile devices.
  • Public sector organisations could also help remove barriers by offering self-service options on their own financial systems or electronic marketplaces.
  • An agreed national or European standard needs to be established so that there is only one format for e-invoicing, and there needs to be an understanding of the technology basis of both the public sector and suppliers.
  • The promotion of e-catalogues and ‘purchase to pay’ systems were seen as being important, as was the ability to control fraudulent invoices and having a smooth electronic data feed.

Illustrative regulations

The illustrative regulations did contain draft measures which would require the public sector to demonstrate pre-procurement market engagement encourages small and medium enterprises to bid for public contracts.

Another draft measure would require public bodies to have “due regard” to lean sourcing principles when carrying out procurement.

The government said it was also considering including the following areas in the emerging procurement regulations:

  • Making appropriate use of electronic invoicing
  • Making procurement advertisements, related documents and / or bidding processes accessible to potential bidders without charge (for example, electronically)
  • Including the appropriate considerations of SME’s within procurement strategies
  • Applying minimum and/or maximum timescales for carrying out procurements below the specified financial thresholds
  • Debriefing unsuccessful bidders for contracts
  • Making appropriate use of standard terms and conditions

 


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