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Importance of record keeping when evaluating tenders


Two recent high court decisions have highlighted the importance of keeping clear and detailed written records of the evaluation process and the reasons for the decisions made.

In Woods Building Services v Milton Keynes Council the claim involved detailed challenges to the scores that the contracting authority had awarded to each of the first and second placed bids in respect of each of the 12 published quality sub-criteria in the procurement process. The scores were challenged on the grounds of manifest error of assessment as well as breach of the general principles of transparency and equal treatment. The complete failure of the evaluation to record the reasons for the actual marks awarded left the contracting authority with no evidence of why it had done what it had done and the supplier's claim was successful.

In Geodesign Barriers Ltd v The Environment Agency the claimant complained that the winning bidders should have been disqualified because its tender did not satisfy one of the mandatory pass/fail requirements set out in the tender documents. The contracting authority had held a meeting to decide which tender had satisfied the mandatory requirements but no written record of their decision was made at all. It was only subsequently when preparing a debrief document that the scores awarded to suppliers were noted in writing. Mr Justice Coulson described the documents disclosed by the contracting authority as "something of a rag-bag" and said the absence of a contemporaneous tender evaluation report raised "a significant question mark as to the transparency and clarity of the procurement exercise".

Both cases are a lesson in the need to produce documentation to support the tender process and award decisions. More information on both cases can be found on Further Education of Library Procurement along with A Guide to Tender Evaluation.

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