Switching From PQQ to SSQ

Switching from PQQ to SSQ

Towards the tail end of 2016, it was announced that the construction industry would begin to phase out pre-qualification questionnaires (PQQ) and replace them with a new test; the standard selection questionnaire (SSQ). The PQQ has been used since 2006 as a way for assigning suppliers to public sector construction projects. The goal of a PQQ is to give the construction company coordinating the work all the information they could need to assess whether a supplier is not only suitable for the job but that usage of that company represents a wise and sound investment for the taxpayer. In this regard, PQQs have been very successful, but they are not without problems.

For example, while the construction company requires access to detailed information to be able to make an accurate judgement, compiling this information can be a significant task for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which gives larger corporations an advantage and leads to an uneven playing field. This is not conducive to fostering and encouraging new talent and competition.

What Is The SSQ?

The SSQ is very similar in nature to the PQQ and is designed to ultimately accomplish the same goal of ensuring public sector construction work is handled appropriately and in a cost-effective manner. The major difference between the two is that the SSQ allows prospective suppliers to self-report details, as well as any potential exclusion criteria that might represent a conflict of interest or show the candidate company to be unsuitable. Only the supplier who is ultimately selected as the preferred company will be required to then submit the relevant evidence to be reviewed by the construction firm. This should save considerable time and money on all sides and encourage more SMEs to apply for public sector projects. There also a number of companies, such as Executive Compass, who offer a standard selection questionnaire writing service, which may be of particular interest to some of those SMEs.

Why the Change?

As well as the practicalities of saving everyone time and money, the switch to SSQ also rectifies a long-standing anomaly; throughout Europe, and all of the United Kingdom except England, the local equivalents of PQQ have conformed to the European Single Procurement Document (ESPD) criteria. The ESPD is a self-declaration form used by businesses bidding for public sector contracts where they declare their status with regards to a number of criteria, the same criteria that formed the basis of the PQQ. The ESPD, and by extension the SSQ, allows companies to bid on projects without having to provide corroborating evidence. It is only the winner who will have to provide the paperwork.

Does This Mean New Regulations?

No! That’s the best part about this change; it streamlines the existing process and levels the playing field for smaller and larger corporations. This, in turn, will increase competition and benefit all of the parties involved from construction and supply to building planning and, ultimately, the local population for whom the works are being completed. The company with the winning bid will still be subject to the same obligations and checks as they were under the old system but it will take less time and money to bring them to that point.

With the Brexit cloud still looming over the United Kingdom it may seem odd to be embracing the European standard but even outside the EU the SSQ offers numerous benefits and represents a welcome step forward for public sector construction.