Scottish public sector contracts worth £50,000 and above for goods and services must be advertised on Public Contracts Scotland (PCS). You can either browse for opportunities or register as a supplier and create a profile to receive automatic e-mail alerts about:
Procurement officers can also use PCS to contact suppliers directly with requests for quotations (Quick Quotes) for lower value contracts. There is no separate registration for Quick Quotes. If you are registered on PCS with a basic company profile that matches a procurement officer’s needs, you will be eligible to be invited to quote.
You can also complete an enhanced profile – Supplier Finder Profile – which allows you to build on the information in your company profile, providing procurement officers with detailed information regarding the goods or services which you can provide to the public sector. Completing a Supplier Finder Profile may enhance your chances of being invited to quote.
There may be several reasons for this, such as:
Look at published notices in PCS to see if there were contracts that you would have been interested in but that you weren’t alerted to: check what categories were used for these, then update your profile.
Collaborative Contracts available to all public bodies
Collaborative Contracts available to public bodies within a specific sector
Local Contracts for use by individual public bodies
Local or regional collaborations between public bodies
If your question is regarding a live tender published via PCS or PCS-Tender (PCS-T), you should raise all questions via PCS or PCS-T. You should write and publish your query via the postbox facility in these systems: this will go directly to the procurement officer who will answer your question.
Please note that when responding the procurement officer will normally publish their response that will allow all interested bidders to see the question raised and the procurement officer response (unless the query is specific to you organisation). This is to promote fairness and transparency i.e. ensure that all potential bidders receive the same information from the procurement officer.
As a result, please do not include any personal, commercial or sensitive information in the query.
The Notice for the tender opportunity: this may be a contract Notice or a Prior Information Notice, will contain information regarding the procurement officers contact details.
You should always contact the Procurement Officer for the tender in the first instance.
The Single Point of Enquiry (SPoE) - is an impartial point of contact where suppliers can seek advice or raise concerns if they are dissatisfied with specific public procurement practices. It’s important to note that the SPoE does not have any legal powers regarding a tender decision made by a public sector body.
Contracts worth more than the European Thresholds are advertised by Scottish public bodies via PCS. However for the rest of the UK opportunities can be found via a number of means:
Some public sector procurement officers will also advertise their procurement exercises, future plans etc. on their own website.
The European Single Procurement Document (ESPD) is a standard form for use by all EU member states, which replaces pre-qualification questionnaires, and should make the process of bidding for a public contract easier. Its purpose is to remove some of the barriers to participation in public procurement, especially for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
From 18 April 2016 all Scottish public bodies have issued and accepted the ESPD form for all procurement exercises above the EU threshold, and it is best practice for regulated (£50k and above for goods and services) procurements.
It should make the process of bidding for a public contract easier by allowing bidders to self-declare that they meet selection and exclusion criteria, without the need to provide evidence at that stage.
The same form will be used across the EU, so a bidder will be able to re-use a form which it has previously submitted for another competition, so long as the information is still correct.
In Scotland we refer to the ESPD as the ESPD (Scotland).
Procurement officers will include the ESPD (Scotland) that you need to complete and submit with the procurement exercise and will include instructions on sourcing the ESPD (Scotland).
Procurement officers can use one of three versions of the ESPD (Scotland) in their procurement exercise as follows:
Yes. Each ESPD is configured to suit the requirements of that individual procurement exercise. Therefore, suppliers will be expected to submit an individual ESPD response that relates to those particular questions and requirements each time they bid.
Where the procurement officer uses the online PCS module or PCS-Tender, suppliers will be able to store and reuse their answers to the ESPD standard questions.
Yes. The questions included in an ESPD have been deemed relevant to the particular procurement exercise. As a result the procurement officer will be assessing all bidders responses based on these questions.
Check the Contract Notice and any other tender documents you may have been provided from the procurement officer to confirm if any additional information there covers your question.
However never assume what a question is asking: an incorrect response could make the difference between your bid proceeding or not. If you are unsure, raise a clarification via the PCS postbox (or PCS-T postbox), within the timelines the procurement officer has publishing for raising clarifications.
If the procurement officer is using PCS-Tender or the ESPD (Scotland) Word document for their procurement exercise, then they will set out the specific requirements and minimum standards that are relevant and proportionate for the procurement exercise in the Contract Notice (or the PIN if that is being used as a call for competition).
If the procurement officer is using the online ESPD (Scotland) Module on Public Contracts Scotland the above is not necessary as the relevant information is contained within this Module.
If using PCS-T or the ESPD (Scotland) word document, Procurement Officers must set out the specific requirements and minimum standards that are relevant and proportionate for the procurement exercise in the Contract Notice (or the PIN if that is being used as a call for competition).
The procurement officer will then publish an ESPD which is relevant to their procurement exercise and make it available for anyone interested in bidding for their contract.
Bidders will complete and submit their ESPD response to the procurement officer, using one of the three methods outlined above. The procurement officer will then assess the bidders suitability against the selection and exclusion criteria.
The ESPD (Scotland) can be issued to bidders within a tender document (when using an Open Procedure) or before the tender document is issued i.e. it is the first stage of a Restricted Procedure, Competitive Dialogue, Competitive Procedure with Negotiation or Innovative Partnership Procedure.
By law, a winning bidder has to submit all of the required certificates and documentation before they are awarded a contract. Bidders can be asked to submit their evidence at any point in the procurement process, if this is necessary to ensure that the process is carried out properly. In a Restricted, or two-stage, procedure, it is likely that those bidders which are shortlisted will be asked to submit their evidence at that stage.
From 18 October 2018, bidders are not required to submit supporting documentation which an organisation already has in its possession.
This will depend on what the issue is. Further information is provided below:
Yes, a fully electronic version of the ESPD (Scotland) is available on PCS-Tender.
The ESPD (Scotland) is only superficially different to the standard version produced by the European Commission.
We have made two types of changes. Firstly, to reflect language and terms in more common usage in Scotland. For example, ESPD (Scotland) refers to supported businesses, rather than sheltered workshops.
Secondly, to insert some sub-questions to reflect developments in Scotland. For example, we have added a sub-question which asks specifically whether the bidder has breached the Employment Relations Act 1999 (Blacklists) Regulations 2010, because this is a mandatory ground for exclusion in Scotland.
For above OJEU procurement exercises, if a bidder proposes to sub-contract part of a contract, and relies on the capacity of that sub-contractor in order to fulfil the selection criteria, a separate ESPD (Scotland) - sections I, II and III - must be completed. It is up to the procurement officer whether to request the completion of the additional ESPD (Scotland) sections. procurement officers can elect to ask for separate ESPD’s if relevant and proportionate to the procurement.
If a sub-contractor is not relied upon, it is the procurement officers decision whether to request any parts of the ESPD e.g. I, II, III or more i.e. whether it is relevant and proportionate to do so.
For below OJEU procurement exercises, the procurement officer may ask for a separate ESPD (Scotland) from each sub-contractor if it is relevant and proportionate to do so.
If not using the online ESPD (Scotland) module in PCS procurement officers must specify in the Contract Notice or Prior Information Notice (PIN) whether separate ESPD (Scotland) are required for sub-contractors.
A separate ESPD response must be submitted from all Group, Consortia, Joint Venture or similar members and any other entities on which the bidder relies to meet the selection criteria.
The procurement officer may choose to request a separate ESPD from any other sub-contractor i.e. on those which the bidder does not rely on to meet the selection criteria, in order to verify whether or not there are grounds for excluding them.
If a sub-contractor is in one of the situations which would lead to its mandatory exclusion, the bidder will be required to replace that sub-contractor.
The procurement officer will have specified how to complete and submit the ESPD (Scotland) provided i.e. either:
Where several ESPD’s have to be submitted e.g. as a result of relying on a sub-contractor and/or due to being a group bid, it is the responsibility of the main bidder to collate and submit all of the completed ESPD documents.