Published: 19 Feb 2019

BS 9009 External Providers - Trust Tests is now open for public comments until 4 April 2019. Mike Pearson, Director at Pearson Associates, and expert in BS 9009, explains the standard and its context.

BS 9009 External Providers - Trust Tests is a standard covering procurement in the public sector. The development of standard was initiated by the UK Government, with the goal of providing a structure for organisations to provide evidence of the measurable requirements needed to meet to deliver products and services. 

The government was concerned about the quality and transparency of business relationships within the procurement process and supply chain, particularly regarding the public sector. This concern was heightened by recent high-profile public sector business contract collapses (such as Carillion, a British multinational facilities management and construction services company that went into liquidation in January 2018, leaving many projects unfinished).  

The standard provides a framework to enable those in the procurement process to assess the trustworthiness and capability of organisations tendering for and procuring public sector contracts. It is aimed at top management (from small business owners, to CEOs of large companies).

The range of assessable criteria is extensive. These include: context of the organisation, organisational governance, risk and opportunity management, financial and commercial accountability, performance history, quality management and assurance ( including those not ISO 9001 certified), measuring, monitoring and evaluation, people and improvement.

Although ISO 9001:2015 – Quality management system covers many of the criteria from BS 9009, the British standard extends this measurable criteria to incorporate more specific measurable requirements. 

This extension of measurable requirements is likely to have a significant impact upon quality professionals working in organisations involved in or wanting to be a part of the public sector procurement supply chain. However, note that the work required to confirm that the requirements of the standard are met must not be simply delegated by top management to the quality department. The quality team provides the information, for top management to impartially assess that the standard requirements are being met.

Open for consideration

The British Standards Institution (BSI) has developed the BS 9009:2019 standard through a working group comprised of members from a broad spectrum of production and service sectors, small and large businesses, together with representatives from government departments and agencies.

The standard is now out for public consultation until 2 April. At the end of the public consultation period all the feedback comments received will be considered by the working group and comments that help improve the intent and operation of the standard will be incorporated in the standard prior to publication.

When making a comment, clearly state the standard’s wording or element that you want to comment on, together with providing your suggested rewording or addition in detail. Failure to follow this process will result in your input not being considered.

It is very likely that this BSI standard will form the basis of an international standard, since Sweden has already submitted a proposal to ISO to consider BS 9009:2019 for that purpose. However, an agreement has been reached to postpone this internationalisation until the BSI standard has been completed and published.