By
1st Mar 2018

This month the European Commission published revised guidance for procurement practitioners involved in procurements that are funded by European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF). The guide aims to help practitioners avoid errors most seen in public procurements and to encourage good practice.

This guide is not only useful for those who are running projects paid for by the European Structural and Investment Funds (something that in the past many colleges have benefitted from) but contains information that will assist anyone running a procurement for contracts exceeding £181k.

The guide starts off by running through the key changes introduced by the public procurement Directive 2014/24/EU (implemented in the UK through The Public Contracts Regulations 2015) but quickly moves onto providing helpful tips on each stage of a procurement process, starting off with the planning phase. This crucial phase is identified as where some of the biggest errors originate from and we would recommend anyone involved in procurement pay particular attention to the tips provided on this stage of the process.

The guide goes on to look at drafting the procurement documents (note the Standard UK Cabinet Office Selection Questionnaire has been designed to mirror the European Single Procurement Document (ESPD), referred to in the guide) and provides useful advice on avoiding discriminatory specifications and how best to specify labels and standards required. The information concerning defining criteria to enable you to choose the best tender is also helpful, with the biggest risks of using unlawful and/or discriminatory selection criteria identified as coming from:

  • failing to check that all the selection criteria are relevant and proportionate to a particular procurement, and simply reusing the same criteria in new procedures;
  • adding questions without any thought as to the potential responses;
  • failing to publish the methodology for assessing and scoring compliance with the selection criteria

The guide’s advice on award criteria is also beneficial, especially the dos and don’ts in the setting of award criteria.

The remaining sections of the guide address the publication of the tender, receipt of tenders, evaluation of tenders and contract management, highlighting the risks and remedies for each stage. The guide and more information on conducting procurement processes can be found on The Further Education Library of Procurement, funded by Crescent Learning.

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