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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about Council Procurement

Worcestershire County Council procures goods, works and services from a wide range of suppliers and service providers. This can range from small, one-off purchases to multi-million pound service contracts lasting several years.

  1. What is the difference between a tender and a contract?
  2. Why does the council ask for a Tender rather than a Quote?
  3. At what level does a quote become a tender?
  4. What is a competitive tender?
  5. What are Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) and European Procurement Regulations?
  6. Where can I get access to OJEU notices?
  7. Where do you advertise your contracts?
  8. How will I know what criteria you are using for the evaluation of a tender?
  9. If I am unsuccessful, will you explain to me why my bid failed and what can you tell me about the winning bid?
  10. If I am on the council's business lists, will I still have to apply formally in response to an OJEU notice  being published?
  11. Does the Council have a Select List of Approved Suppliers/Contractors?
  12. Does the council use a third party supplier accreditation?
  13. If I want to apply for a tender do I have to submit some pre-qualifying information about my company?
  14. What tender documentation do I need to do business with the council?
  15. My company is new and has few references; will I be allowed to compete for Council business?
  16. Can I submit a tender with my own alternative conditions attached?
  1. Q. What is the difference between a tender and a contract?
    A. 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.(Top of Page)

  2. Q. Why does the council ask for a Tender rather than a Quote?
    A. We 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 we ask for a quote or goes out to tender.(Top of Page)

  3. Q. At what level does a quote become a tender?
    A. We will normally seek 3 written quotes for lower value work, supplies or services, (e.g. under £172,514 in value). If the value is above £172,514 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 Procurement Code of Practice.(Top of Page)

  4. Q. What is a competitive tender?
    A. This is the process by which we decide who is the best provider. 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.(Top of Page)

  5. Q. What are Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) and European Procurement Regulations?
    A. 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:- Works contracts - *£4,332,012 Supplies contracts - *£172,514 Services contracts - *£172,514,In the case of services advertisement is required for certain types of priority services * These figures are set by the European Union and are subject to change but are correct at the time of producing this document (June 2014). OJEU is the Official Journal of the European Union. 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.(Top of Page)

  6. Q. Where can I get access to OJEU notices?
    A. OJEU is available in electronic form only either via the Internet on "Tenders Electronic Daily" (TED) - http://ted.publications.eu.int or in CD-ROM format available from the Stationery Office on 020 7873 9090.(Top of Page)

  7. Q. Where do you advertise your contracts?
    A. Contracts are advertised on this website, as well as trade journals relating to that product or service (where appropriate) and, if the European thresholds are exceeded, the OJEU (Official Journal of the European Union).(Top of Page)

  8. Q. How will I know what criteria you are using for the evaluation of a tender?
    A. The criteria will be stated in the tender documents.(Top of Page)

  9. Q. If I am unsuccessful, will you explain to me why my bid failed and what can you tell me about the winning bid?
    A. 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, we will provide it. We will inform you who was successful and briefly outline the reasons for the award.(Top of Page)

  10. Q. If I am on the council's business lists, will I still have to apply formally in response to an OJEU notice being published?
    A. Yes.(Top of Page)

  11. Q. Does the Council have a Select List of Approved Suppliers/Contractors?
    A. Please search the Trader Register for a list of County Council approved suppliers.(Top of Page)

  12. Q. Does the council use a third party supplier accreditation?
    A. No, we operate and manage our own database.(Top of Page)

  13. Q. If I want to apply for a tender do I have to submit some pre-qualifying information about my company?
    A. We normally require all suppliers 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.(Top of Page)

  14. Q. What tender documentation do I need to do business with the council?
    A. 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: • Specification: This describes the work to be done and the standards required; • Terms and conditions of the contract: These set out the rules of the contract that will be entered into between us and the appointed contractor; • Pricing Document: This enables the tenderer to set out and provide a price for the work. In addition, depending on the type of contract, other documentation could include - Plans or details of sites (where applicable) ; Relevant policy documents you will need to observe.(Top of Page)

  15. Q. My company is new and has few references; will I be allowed to compete for Council business?
    A. Yes. The Council does 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.(Top of Page)

  16. Q. Can I submit a tender with my own alternative conditions attached?
    A. 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. (Top of Page)

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This page was last reviewed 6 August 2014 at 12:06.
The page is next due for review 2 February 2016.