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E-tendering systems - is it now compulsory to use one?


The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 brought in changes that affect the way in which contracting authorities (i.e. schools, academies and colleges etc) communicate with tenderers during a tender process for contracts above the EU threshold.

Below is a summary of the e-communications regulations and the date from which they apply:

Post 26th February 2015

  • Procurement documents must be available electronically for potential bidders to download at the time the OJEU Notice is published or when an Invitation to Confirm Interest is sent.
    Guidance by Crown Commercial Services (CCS) does take a “purposive” view of the definition of “procurement documents” and suggests that what is meant by “procurement documents” changes based on the different stages of the process that has been reached. Best practice guidance on the publication of procurement documents requirements can be found on Further Education Library of Procurement.
  • Oral communications must be documented. Essential parts of the tender process cannot be conducted orally.

Post 18th October 2018

  • All communication and information exchanged in tender processes for contracts above the EU threshold must be carried out electronically including the submission of tenders.
  • Tools and devices for the electronic receipt of tenders and requests to participate must meet the technical and security requirements set out in the Regulations.

What does all of this mean?

Firstly you need to ensure potential bidders are able to download the relevant procurement documentation, providing them with a link to the appropriate webpage within the OJEU Notice.

Secondly, we would recommend that if you conduct any site visits or presentations as part of your procurement process, you ensure these are adequately documented such as written or audio records or summaries of the main elements of the communication.

Regarding e-tendering systems, when conducting tenders for contracts above the EU threshold, you may need to purchase an e-tendering system to receive tenders in a way that complies with the technical and security requirements of the regulations. Whether this is necessary for you or not will depend on how you procure contracts above the EU threshold. If you always use framework agreements provided by purchasing consortia, they will probably have access to an e-tendering system you can use.

Here at the CPC we have CPC Sourcing Cloud Mini Comp Tool, available for all our members to use for free which complies with all the relevant Regulations.

Should you employ procurement consultants such as Tenet Education Services to run your above EU Threshold tenders, access to a compliant e-tendering system is all part of their service!

However, if there are occasions when you conduct your own tenders that exceed the EU threshold then you will need to have access to an e-tendering system.

There are many benefits of using an e-tendering system, in addition to complying with the Regulations. Find out more about the functionality and benefits of these systems in A Guide to E-Tendering .

Should you now be looking for e-tendering solutions, CPC (in partnership with ADB Limited) launched CPC Sourcing Cloud - a suite of e-tendering tools designed to provide the education sector with a one-stop-shop for all its e-tendering requirements. In addition to the free mini-competition tool, CPC Sourcing Cloud includes ‘Tender’ a tool that will enable you to run your own procurement exercises including those that exceed the EU threshold.

The Tender tool is available to CPC members for £1,000 per annum for a four year contract with unlimited users. CPC members that choose to purchase the CPC Sourcing Cloud Tender tool, can run both their own procurements (local or above EU threshold) and CPC mini competitions within the same system, providing a single depository to record and manage all their tendering activity. To find out more about CPC Sourcing Cloud Tender and the other modules available from ADB or to request an online demonstration, please call ADB on 0151 482 9230.

Another option is to utilise the Tender Publication Services offered by Tenet Education Services. Tenet will publish your OJEU notice and tender documentation and simply act as the ‘mail exchange’ for clarification questions and submissions. Once you have completed your tender evaluation, Tenet will post your feedback letters and award the contract on the system. Pricing is £750 + VAT per tender.

To find out more about Tenet Education Services and the procurement support they offer, please call 01376 511 411 or email [email protected].

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