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Competitive Dialogue

The Competitive Dialogue procedure can be used by a procurement officer where the contract cannot be awarded without prior negotiation because of the nature or complexity of the suppliers or services required.

This tends to be because:

  • the needs of the contract cannot be met without adaptation of readily available solutions;
  • the supplies or services required include design or innovative solutions;
  • the technical specifications of the supplies or services cannot be established precisely by the procurement officer;
  • the public body has already tried to procure the goods or services using the Open or Restricted procedure but only received irregular or unacceptable tenders;

Under this procedure:

  • the Contract Notice will make it clear that the Competitive Dialogue Procedure is being used and will also set out the award criteria which the public body will apply during the dialogue stage;
  • any supplier may make a request to participate;
  • the supplier must submit a completed ESPD within the timelines set out by the procurement officer;
  • following assessment of the submitted ESPDs, the procurement officer will conduct a dialogue with the suppliers who have met the selection criteria. The aim of the dialogue will be to develop one or more suitable alternative solutions capable of meeting the requirements.  On the basis of this dialogue the procurement officer will select suppliers to invite to tender

A record of clear reasons for selecting this approach is required and commercial confidentiality is of key importance in employing this procedure.

Details of the procedure can be found in The Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2015.

How Long Do I Have to Respond?

You will normally be given a minimum of 30 days to respond from the day the Contract Notice is sent for publication to submit your selection stage documents.

The invitation to Submit a Final Tender will not be made available at the same time as the Contract Notice, as dialogue needs to occur and be finalised beforehand.

For the Award stage you will normally be given a minimum of 30 days to respond to the tender. This timescale can be amended depending on whether a Prior Information Notice was issued (and how it is used) or where bids will be accepted electronically.

The procurement officer will detail all of the tender timelines in the tender documents.  You should ensure you read and understand these.

If there is a justifiable reason to change the tender closing date,  the new date will be notified to all bidders. If you  have already submitted a tender then you should be given the opportunity to withdraw your original bid and submit a revised one.

What do I need to do to respond to a Competitive Dialogue tender?

  • register on Public Contracts Scotland (or PCS-Tender ) if required
  • formally note interest in the contract;
  • access the procurement documents available via PCS or PCS-Tender, as required by the procurement officer;
  • respond to the Selection stage of the process;
  • if successful, participate in the dialogue sessions held;
  • access to the final tender documents via PCS or PCS-Tender, as required by the procurement officer;
  • respond to the tender, either via PCS or PCS-Tender (the procurement officers instructions will tell you which system to use) ensuring you can meet the deadlines.

It is the responsibility of all suppliers to ensure that their bid is submitted in accordance with the rules of the competition and before the specified deadline. Non-conformant bids will be disqualified from the competition.

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