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What is PAS91? (Pre-Qualification Explained)

PAS91 is the UK Government’s standard for pre-qualification that was created to provide a more consistent and efficient process for public sector procurement teams when assessing contractor pre-qualification.

The standard is used by buyers from all over the UK public sector, including central government departments, local authorities, health service organisations and defence establishments.

In this blog post, we will explore what PAS91 is, its benefits to buyers and suppliers, and what changes have been made to this standard. Keep reading to find out more.

PAS91 explained

Introduced by the British Standards Institute (BSI) in 2010, the Publicly Available Specification Number 91 (PAS91) is designed to reduce duplication and improve efficiency while ensuring that only suitably qualified suppliers are engaged in public projects.

The standard includes questions that cover areas such as financial information, environmental practices, human resources policies, insurance requirements, and quality management systems.

PAS91 is designed to ensure that all procurement in the public sector is fair, open, and efficient while safeguarding against potentially damaging risks such as fraudulent or corrupt behaviour.

It also helps buyers by providing a consistent framework for assessing pre-qualification criteria, ensuring that only suitable contractors are invited to tender.

Is PAS91 mandatory?

Despite the questionnaire being a recommended minimum standard for construction procurement, it is not mandatory.

However, achieving PAS91 compliance is highly beneficial and is often regarded as an indicator of credibility within the industry.

Although it’s not legally required, adhering to the PAS91 standard can significantly increase a contractor’s chances of being involved in public sector projects.

Procurement teams consider PAS91 compliance as a testament to the contractor’s commitment to efficiency, risk mitigation, and maintaining high-quality standards.

Furthermore, it gives contractors an edge in a competitive marketplace, as it validates their capability and readiness to undertake public sector contracts.

Therefore, while not mandatory, PAS91 compliance is a worthwhile pursuit for any contractor looking to thrive in the public sector.

Are ISO 14001, 9001, and 45001 accreditations considered?

Yes, PAS91 takes into consideration ISO 14001, 9001, and 45001 accreditations.

These internationally recognised standards stand for environmental management, quality management, and occupational health and safety, respectively.

Achieving these accreditations can serve as evidence that a contractor has robust systems in place for managing quality, environmental impact, and worker safety.

Thus, when a supplier can demonstrate compliance with these ISO standards within their PAS91 questionnaire, it can significantly enhance their pre-qualification prospects for public sector contracts.

Showing compliance with these standards can also reduce the need for certain other questions within the questionnaire, making the process more efficient.

Key Elements of the PAS91 Standard

The PAS91 standard is comprehensive and designed to encompass a broad spectrum of essential elements that contribute to an effective and efficient public procurement process.

It includes standardised questions focused on aspects such as financial standing, organisational and operational capacities, and technical abilities.

The standard also requires an examination of a company’s environmental management and quality assurance protocols, ensuring they meet acceptable thresholds.

Furthermore, the standard delves into specifics such as insurance details, equality and diversity policies, health and safety procedures, and compliance with the Modern Slavery Act .

This thorough scrutiny, as stipulated by PAS91, ensures that all suppliers engaged in public sector projects are not just proficient in their respective areas but are also committed to best practices in business operations.

Changes to the PAS 91 questionnaire in 2017

In 2017, significant amendments were made to the PAS91 to incorporate feedback and changes in the industry.

A key change was the introduction of a section on the Immigration Act and the Minimum Wage Act, requiring contractors to confirm that they are compliant with the relevant legislation.

This addition was pivotal in ensuring that suppliers to the public sector were compliant with the Act, thereby bringing a greater ethical dimension to procurement.

The revised PAS91 also simplified the sections related to health and safety and environmental management, making it easier for contractors to demonstrate their compliance in these areas.

Benefits of PAS91 for suppliers

There are many benefits to being PAS91 compliant if you’re a supplier in the construction industry.

One of the main benefits of PAS91 compliance for suppliers is the potential for increased business opportunities, given its recognition amongst public sector procurement teams. Compliance signifies that a contractor has met a certain standard of business operation, enhancing their reputation and standing within the industry.

Additionally, the standardisation of questions within the PAS91 pre-qualification questionnaire streamlines the application process, saving time and resources that would otherwise be spent on completing different forms for different buyers. This efficiency can prove particularly beneficial for smaller suppliers or those with limited resources.

Lastly, achieving PAS91 compliance can provide a competitive edge in a crowded marketplace, as it serves as a testament to a supplier’s commitment to efficiency, quality, and risk mitigation.

Benefits of PAS91 for buyers

For buyers, the benefits of PAS91 are manifold. The standard provides a common platform to evaluate potential suppliers, greatly simplifying the procurement process and reducing administrative overheads.

Through PAS91, buyers can ensure a level of consistency and fairness in supplier pre-qualification, fostering trust in the procurement process. The standard framework of PAS91 also lends itself to transparency, as all suppliers are assessed and evaluated based on the same criteria.

This minimises the risk of bias while enhancing the quality and sustainability of the procurement process.

Better yet, by streamlining this process with a standardised questionnaire, buyers can discover and identify qualified contractors much faster, allowing them to focus on delivering projects in a timely and cost-effective manner, in addition to other project-specific areas of the pre-qualification process.

Additionally, by prioritising contractors who adhere to PAS91, buyers indirectly encourage higher industry standards and best practices, thereby contributing to the overall betterment of the construction sector.

Demonstrate your PAS91 compliance

With years of industry experience, the Compliance Chain team has a deep understanding of the PAS 91 modules and offers a comprehensive solution to help suppliers achieve PAS 91 compliance.

Using the Compliance Chain platform, both buyers and contractors benefit from easy-to-use and cost-effective construction project management tools that can help you save time and resources.

Our platform captures and tracks the industry compliance of principal contractors and integrates with your existing systems, allowing you to perform accurate and efficient supplier pre-qualification.

Moreover, buyers can check for over 15 compliance assessment areas through our platform to ascertain if a contractor is fully compliant with industry regulations. This process makes pre-qualification faster for both buyers and suppliers, thereby enhancing the project delivery process.

If you want to learn more about how Compliance Chain can help you with your PAS91 compliance requirements, contact us today! We’d be delighted to discuss your needs and show you how our platform can help you meet them.

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