BEST VALUE, the Government's long-awaited replacement to compulsory competitive tendering, officially comes into force on 1 April.
Although councils have not officially had to adhere to CCT since 2 January, they will now have to comply with the new regime.
The legislation will see councils having to show continuous improvement in their procurement in terms of the 'three Es' - efficiency, effectiveness and economy. All services provided will then be reviewed by applying the 'four Cs' - challenge, consult, compare and compete.
It is expected that Best Value will lead to more partnerships between local government and the private sector.
Babtie Group managing director Bob Clarke said: 'Best Value is about doing things in a flexible way, which isn't bound up in lots of rules and regulations about the competitive process. It's more about local authorities choosing the kind of partnership that suits them, testing the market and finding the right solution for their circumstances.'
David Green, chair of the ICE's Best Value task force, has written a guide on the new regime and said councils would almost be forced to prove why they should not go out to competition for all activities.
However, Green warned that what worked in practice would depend on the inspection and audit regime. 'If the auditors don't get it right and if they don't challenge the authorities sufficiently, there's a real danger that Best Value could fall flat on its face,' he said