We use two main tender processes:
- Open tender - This is where everyone expressing an interest in a tender opportunity will be sent a copy of the tender document to complete;
- Restricted tender - Where everyone who responds to an advertisement is sent a selection questionnaire (SQ) to complete and return for us to evaluate. Only those firms who are shortlisted will be invited to tender.
The Tender Process
Tender timetables are usually prescribed by the European Procurement Directives, which every public contracting authority has to comply with. Generally these require an open tender to run for 35 days from the date of placing an advert to receipt by us of your completed tender. A restricted tender, requires usually 30 days to respond to the advert with a completed SQ, followed by a minimum of 30 days to allow you to complete and submit your tender. However, these dates can be reduced if tendering electronically.
Before tenders are received, we will deal with any questions of clarification and share this information with all bidders. We will normally set a date - before the tenders are due to be returned - by which you must have submitted any points of clarification.
Tenders are evaluated against the criteria and using the model and methods stated in the tender document. A panel of officers usually conducts this evaluation against price and quality. If we spot something in your bid that needs further clarification to assist the evaluation, we will ask you. Sometimes we include a presentation as part of our evaluation process. You will be told in the invitation to tender if this applies to your particular tender.
What we look for when evaluating a tender
It is impossible to cover all of the things we include in our evaluation, since they are specific to each tender. However, as a rough guide evaluation generally falls under the following headings:
- Capacity - We will require you to have the ability to sustain the contract over its lifetime. We would expect suppliers to be able to maintain a regular supply of goods, services or works that are not adversely affected by fluctuations in demand by us or by your other customers. For example, we need to be satisfied that spare parts would be readily available during the useful life of a product. In some areas we may also expect that you are able to adapt your supply to meet changing regulations and standards;
- Compliance with our policies - The Council has a number of corporate policies with which we seek to align our contracts. We want to deal with suppliers who can help us to achieve our Corporate Procurement and Commissioning Strategy through the delivery of goods and services;
- Compliance with Specification - We check for compliance with national, european and international standards but also make every effort to ensure our specifications are flexible enough to allow you to offer your range of products and alternative methods of production. Specifications for services will ask you to tell us how you will meet the outcomes we require and how well you understand our priorities and objectives. Here we would expect you to provide a detailed method of work, written statements and possibly a timed project plan;
- Cost - This is the cost of the goods or services to the council. We will consider the net cost including where appropriate the life cycle cost of the product which includes the cost of acquisition, operation and disposal;
- Insurance - We will require you to have certain minimum amounts of insurance cover (such as public liability, employers liability and professional indemnity) dependent on the nature of the contract;
- Quality - We would expect you to tell us what relevant quality approvals you hold and what systems you operate to ensure supplies of goods or services are maintained to the standards agreed in the contract. Where appropriate, we will also be looking for your understanding and management of health and safety issues and in particular how you ensure safety in production methods or service delivery.
When we have reached our decision, we make a provisional award which will be subject to a standstill period of no less than ten days. You will be notified of the outcome of your tender. During this period, you may seek de-briefing information on the outcome of the tender. De-briefing information is provided in paper format. At the end of the standstill period, the contract will be formally awarded.
About the Standstill Period
For all public sector procurements covered by full application of the procedural requirements of the EU procurement directives, a minimum ten days mandatory 'Standstill Period' is required between communicating the award decision by e-mail or facsimile, to all of those organisations invited to bid and entering into a contractually binding agreement.
A notice of our award decision will be issued to all of those organisations who submitted a bid and will contain the following information:
- The Award Criteria;
- The reasons for the award decision including:
- the characteristics and relative advantages of the winning bid;
- scores of the winning bid;
- scores of the unsuccessful bid;
- any reasons why the unsuccessful bid did not meet the technical specification.
- The name of the bidder to be awarded the contract;
- The date when the Standstill Period will end and any reasons why it may not end when envisaged.
During the period of the Standstill, bidders may seek further written information on the award. As full debrief information is issued at the commencement of the Standstill Period we no longer offer verbal de-briefs on OJEU advertised tenders.