For contracts of over £25,000, where there is no in-house provider or Corporate Contract for what we want to purchase, a competitive tendering process should be followed.
This means asking organisations to submit competitive bids (tenders) to us. By doing this we can ensure that public money is spent in a way that is fair, open, honest and accountable.
The only exception to this rule is where a reason not to competitively tender for a contract has been agreed and financial regulations have been waived, for example where there is only one supplier or timescales are very short.
Contracts over certain high values are also subject to a series of EU Procurement Directives. These directives require us to:
advertise and award contracts in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU)
follow specified timescales and
award contracts, either on the basis of ‘lowest price’, or ‘most economically advantageous tender’ (a consideration of both quality and cost)
The EU directives apply to contracts that exceed the following amounts (as of January 2014) are:
service and supply contracts over £172,514
works contracts over £4,322,012
The thresholds vary from time to time and have traditionally been amended every two years on 1 January.
All public sector procurement, regardless of how much is being spent, is governed by an EC Treaty. The basic principles of this Treaty are the free movement of goods and services and non-discrimination against prospective bidders on the grounds of nationality.
There are four main ways in which we competitively tender contracts:
Competitive Dialogue Procedure
Approved List and Framework Arrangements
Definitions of what all these terms mean can be found on our Glossary.
These are well established procedures which we follow to ensure we get the best value for money. The process we follow will be determined by a range of factors, including:
value of contract
number of suppliers in the market
the complexity of our requirements
Regardless of the process followed, all bids are evaluated according to clear, pre-published criteria by a panel of experienced officers, and contracts will be awarded on the basis of value for money, which means a balance of quality and cost.