The budget-holder is responsible for the preparation of a specification. The specification should state the precise nature and quantity of the requirement, together with any other relevant information which will be necessary to enable suppliers to make offers. It should be detailed enough to be a comprehensive outline of the requirement and to allow comparison between different tenders, but not be so prescriptive that it might hinder competition and innovative solutions.
Insofar as is cost-effective and appropriate, potential suppliers may be invited to make comments on the draft specification, but this will always be carefully and fairly undertaken to ensure that no favouritism or bias to one supplier can be introduced.
The criteria to be used in the evaluation process will be clearly identified in the documentation sent to the supplier. Each need will have its own specific mix of 'Value for Money' elements and these will be identified by the budget-holder. It is unlikely that a straight lowest price evaluation will be used - more likely will be the use of the MEAT concept (Most Economically Advantageous Tender). A MEAT evaluation will seek to balance quality aspects against whole life cost so as to end up with the best possible value for money solution.
Documents will be issued to the market by the department responsible for the purchase. In order to facilitate 'ease of access' the documentation will identify the names and contact details for further information if required. Suppliers are encouraged to make use of this facility to ensure they are fully conversant with both the contract specification and the procurement process and timetable.
In a one stage process (like the European 'Open' procedure) the full tender documentation (instructions, specifications, questionnaires, price schedules etc) will be sent to all suppliers who respond to the advertisement. The suppliers' documentation should then all be returned by the closing date and all bids will be evaluated.
However, because the response rate to an advertisement is not known in advance it is more usual to use the two stage process (like the European 'Restricted' procedure). The first stage is the selection stage which will result in a shortlist of capable and competent suppliers who will then be invited to tender. This second stage is the evaluation stage, where the tenderers' proposals and prices are considered.
Suppliers responding to the initial advert will be sent an outline specification giving some more details on the contract and various questionnaires to enable a shortlist of at least three to be selected. There is a deadline for submission of questionnaires but they can be returned earlier.
Generally, the first selection stage will be determined against the following criteria:
Technical Capacity and Capability
Past track record for similar products, work or services
This assessment is carried out by analysing the results of a Preliminary or Pre-Qualification Questionnaire, and also a Health and Safety Questionnaire and Environmental Questionnaire if appropriate (view the questionnaires).
The selected, shortlisted suppliers will then be sent the full tender documentation which will probably include more detailed information on the contract specification, pricing schedules, instructions on how to complete the tender and a tender reply address label. A Trade References Questionnaire will be sent at this stage to the referees given in the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (view the Trade References Questionnaire).
The documents will clearly state a latest time for receipt. Arun District Council rigidly applies this deadline. It is the supplier's responsibility to ensure that the deadline is met. These deadlines are strictly adhered to so that no tenderer could be suspected of having received more time to prepare and submit their bid, and to ensure that all the sealed tenders can be opened at the same time shortly after the closing deadline. This is to prevent any possibility of one tenderer's bid becoming known to another tenderer who is yet to submit their tender.
The sealed tenders are all opened at the same time in the presence of a Councillor and the Head of Committee Services, or a senior Officer appointed by him/her.
In addition to the strict adherence to the closing deadline it must be stressed that tenders are to be sealed and unmarked in any way that may identify the bidder. The tender reply address label supplied by the Council must be attached to the tender outer packaging. Any contravention of these rules will result in the tender being dismissed forthwith.
Documents can usually be sent to suppliers electronically if required and suppliers may then also respond electronically but ONLY by returning a disc or CD with their documents as part of their tender package.
If electronic information is requested by a Council Officer, it MUST NOT be e-mailed back to the Council before tenderers have been advised that the sealed tenders have been opened, and it must not include any information different or additional to that contained in the original hard copy tender itself.
After the formal opening, the Tenders are then evaluated by the appropriate technical Officer or team of Officers which may include operations staff, the Purchasing Officer and other senior Officers.
Following the evaluation, a recommendation may have to be made to the relevant Cabinet Member if the lowest cost (in the case of cost only evaluations) or highest scoring (for MEAT evaluations) is not the preferred bidder, or to Cabinet (for 'key decsions' over £500,000) for a decision. In some cases for large or contentious contracts the decision may be referred to full Council. This approval process may take six weeks or more. Details of the decision are given in the appropriate Council Minutes.
A 'Letter of Intent' will be sent to the successful Tenderer as soon as possible. This will be followed by the contract documents.
Those who were unsuccessful will be notified by letter, and on request unsuccessful suppliers will be debriefed.
|PLEASE NOTE: This authority is subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. If you consider that any information you supply is either commercially sensitive or confidential in nature, this should be highlighted and the reasons for its sensitivity given. In such cases, the relevant material will in response to FOI requests be examined in the light of the exemptions provided for in the FOI Act.|