Before you make a purchase on behalf of your institution, are you aware of the regulations that apply to the purchasing process you undertake?
When you are procuring contracts that exceed certain monetary thresholds you must normally advertise the opportunity on the public sectors Find a Tender Service and on Contracts Finder following procedural rules set down in The Public Contracts Regulations before you can award the contract. Unless you are using an existing compliant framework agreement.
The current thresholds (2020) relevant to educational establishments are: £189,330 for goods and services, £4,733,252 for the procurement of works and £663,540 for the procurement of a specific list of services found in Schedule 3 of the Regulations.
These thresholds apply to the value of the contract throughout its duration (not the annual value) including any possible extensions. If you purchase multiple successive contracts of the same type, the threshold applies to the aggregated spend of these contracts over a 12 month period. Or if you have a rolling contract with no end date or you can’t calculate the total value of a contract then the threshold applies to the aggregated spend on the contract over a 4 year term.
Like any system of rules, the Procurement Regulations depends upon an effective system of enforcement. Bidders who lost out as a result of breaches committed by your organisation have a means of redress. They are able to raise a claim at the High Court and if you are found to have breached the Regulations, the Court has the power to impose fines, award damages and set contracts aside. Negative publicity could of course follow and you will be required to pay your own and often the bidders legal fees.
The Further Education Library of Procurement (FELP) (managed by the CPC) provides more information on the Procurement Regulations. You can also contact your CPC Regional Procurement Advisor who would be happy to visit and provide you with more information.
Framework agreements provide an easier alternative way of complying with the Procurement Regulations. When you use a framework agreement you don’t have to openly advertise the opportunity or follow the full procedural rules. Instead you ‘call off’ your specific requirements from the framework suppliers. If there is more than one supplier on the framework you are, at times, required to carry out a mini competition. Whilst the need to run a mini-competition may sound like a lot of work, it is much less onerous than completing a full tender exercise because the suppliers listed on the framework have been pre-qualified and are capable of meeting your needs. Furthermore you are getting the benefit of the total purchasing power of all those that are using the framework e.g. firms who bid and are placed on the frameworks are aiming to win a significant proportion of the business available from the framework members and not just your college.
There are a number of simple ‘rules’ including:
The mini-competition must be run like a sealed tender i.e.
Further guidance on how to conduct a mini competition is available on the FELP website under A Guide to Using Framework Agreements.
|Current CPC frameworks-retender work usually begins around 6 months before the framework end date||View our frameworks|
|A Guide to Managing above the Threshold Tenders||Download from FELP|
|Frequently Asked Questions on the Public Contracts Regulations||View on FELP|
|Remedies Guidance||Download from FELP|
|A Guide to Managing Bidder Challenges||Download from FELP|
|A Guide to Using Framework Agreements||Download from FELP|