We use a number of methods to buy products and services. The choice depends on the type of product or service and its overall value. However, competitive tendering is our overall preferred course of action for supplier selection and is generally utilised in the University when the value of the goods and/or services to be purchased exceeds £25,000.
Where the overall value is likely to exceed the relevant threshold then the University is required to follow procedures laid down in the Public Contracts Regulations 2006.
Within these regulations there are a number of tendering approaches that can be used, as follows:
- Open tendering
- Restricted tendering
- Negotiated tendering
Open tendering is a one-stage bidding process, where all interested and responding to contract notice will be invited to submit a tender. The contract notice states where to obtain tender documents and the last date when tenders will be accepted.
This is a two-stage process in which potential suppliers expressing an interest in bidding are evaluated first. A shortlist is then drawn up from the evaluation exercise for the purpose of inviting bids. The contract notice gives details on information that must be submitted by the supplier or on how to receive the necessary documentation to express an interest in being short listed. The restricted procedure is most likely to be applied where large numbers of applicants are anticipated.
This is when the University, under certain limited circumstances, negotiates with one or more organisations of its choice following a process of pre-qualification. In order to reduce numbers to a manageable level for the purposes of tendering (when using either the restricted or negotiated procedures), expressions of interest from potential suppliers are subject to a process of pre-qualification.
Potential suppliers must demonstrate their financial, commercial and technical capabilities to fully meet the contractual requirements under tender. The University also takes account of a company’s past performance and experience with reference to contracts of a similar nature, both with the University and other relevant organisations. We also look for clear demonstration of commitment to equal opportunities in employment, to the environment and to health and safety (where appropriate).
Evaluation of tenders
In order to preserve the integrity of the competitive process, it is imperative that the evaluation of proposals is undertaken objectively, consistently and without bias towards or against particular suppliers. Tenders are usually evaluated against a pre-determined set of criteria. Scoring and weighting of criteria is determined at the same time the tender is compiled. It is very unlikely that contracts are awarded on the basis of price alone. The University will award a contract only to the supplier(s) it considers offers the best value for money. For this reason, the main evaluation criterion will be the “most economically advantageous tender” as determined by the criteria set out in the tender documents. The award criteria vary depending on the type of contract. Examples of award criteria, in addition to price, are quality, experience, technical merit, financial viability, and flexibility to future changes to requirements, speed of project delivery and sustainability.
The University may ask for references from previous customers, bankers and business information companies and, in some cases, arrange inspection visits to the company and/or its work sites.
Award of contract
An evaluation team will examine each tender received and make recommendations as to which tender represents best value for money. Once the contract has been awarded, both the successful and unsuccessful tenderers will be notified. Unsuccessful tenderers may obtain feedback through written application to the University.
A contract award notice will be placed in OJEU (if applicable) within 48 days of the contract being awarded.