Public Procurement Guide

What is the difference between a tender and a contract?

The term tender means a formal invitation to trade under the terms of offer and the documents associated with that offer. A contract is, generally speaking, a legally binding agreement between parties, where there has been offer, acceptance and consideration.

Why do authorities ask for a tender rather than a quote?

Public authorities have a statutory obligation under the Government's Best Value Review regime to seek competitive prices. Generally, it is the level of value and risk that determines if they may ask for a quote or whether something goes out to tender

At what level does a quote become a tender?

Normal UK regulations require 3 written quotes for lower value work, supplies or services (below £50,000 in value). If the value is above £50,000 or the nature of the request is complex, or requires a certain specification that needs to be matched, then we will 'Competitively Tender' the works in accordance with our Contract Procedure Rules.

What is a competitive tender?

This is the process by which we decide who the best provider is. The tender is the completed and priced pre-prepared document that lays out all the terms, conditions and specification. We usually invite a minimum of 5 suppliers to submit a tender. The invitation to tender is issued to all suppliers on the same day. They are not allowed to canvass or collude with us, other than to seek clarity. The time allowed for pricing and submitting a tender varies depending on the complexity of the procurement; it is normally around 4 to 6 weeks. All tenders must be returned before a specified date and time before being opened by us.

What are Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) and European Procurement Regulations?

When tendering and awarding contracts for goods, services or works, we are legally obliged to observe the requirements of the EU Public Procurement Rules. These stipulate that contracts valued in excess of specified amounts (see below) must be publicly exposed to competition within the European Union.

Therefore we are obligated to advertise contracts in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) when contract values exceed these amounts:

These figures are set by the European Union and are subject to change but are correct at the time of producing this document (December 2009). OJEU is the Official Journal of the European Union. In the case of services advertisement is required for certain types of priority services

When contracts for works, supplies and services exceed a specified threshold value, local authorities and other public organisations must advertise their details in this publication, calling for expressions of interest

Where can I get access to OJEU notices?

Right from our website. Please contact us or see our services section

How will I know what criteria you are using for the evaluation of a tender?

The criteria will be stated in the tender documents.

If I am unsuccessful, will there be an explanation to me why my bid failed and what can I find out about the winning bid?

Yes - this could include a number of reasons. For example, you might be too costly, or have insufficient skills or knowledge, you may have failed to understand what is required or failed to complete the documentation correctly. Whatever the reason, if you ask for feedback, the awarding authority provide it. The awarding authority will inform you who was successful and briefly outline the reasons for the award

Types of OJEU Notice




Minimum Timescales for EU Process Open Procedure

Time scale - must be advertised on OJEU at least 52 days prior to the closing date for the receipt of tenders

Under no circumstances must the advertisement in the UK press appear before the publication of the OJEU notice.

Restricted Procedure

Time scale - must be advertised in OJEU and allow at least 37 days for applicant to register interest. A further 40 days is required from the date of dispatch of tenders to the closing date.

Negotiated Procedure

Time scale - must be advertised in OJEU and allow 37 days for applicants to register interest.

Accelerated Procedure

Time scale - must be advertised in OJEU and allow 15 days for applicant to register interest, and 10 days from the date of dispatch of tenders to the closing date.

If I want to apply for a tender do I have to submit some pre-qualifying information about my company?

Normally all suppliers are required to complete a questionnaire detailing information about their financial/economic standing and their technical capability. This usually covers information about when you started business or your organisation/company was formed, what experience you have in providing the goods/services/works being tendered for, details of where we may obtain references on your company, and details of your company's finances. We have a pre-qualification questionnaire that can be requested in reply to a contract advice. Once completed and returned you will be considered for tender invitation.

What tender documentation do I need to do business?

The contract documentation needed will be provided when we invite you to tender, either in electronic or paper formats. The documentation will normally comprise 3 main sections depending on the contract. These will be as follows:

My company is new and has few references; will I be allowed to compete?

Yes. Authorities do not discourage new businesses. A view will be taken on your company's suitability and any potential risk to us. Thorough investigations will be made examining your financial status and past performance where possible. You could also be invited to an interview to further examine your suitability.

Can I submit a tender with my own alternative conditions attached?

Generally, no. A tender will only be accepted if it is submitted in accordance with the instructions to tender and in accordance with the terms and conditions of the contract as stated.

Related Topics

Return to the main help pages