How Do I Find Out About Contract Opportunities?

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:

  • Relevant public sector opportunities;
  • Sub-contract opportunities with main contractors in the private sector performing large public sector contracts;
  • Contract awards telling you what company won the contract, enabling you to follow up any potential sub-contracting opportunities.

How Do I Register on Public Contracts Scotland (PCS) for Quick Quotes?

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.

I Have Registered on PCS but I Haven't Received Any Alerts. Why?

There may be several reasons for this, such as:

  • there have been no opportunities advertised that match your business profile as there are existing contracts in place; 
  • the categories you have selected may need to be amended;
  • there is no need for what you offer within the public sector?

You can:

  • See what contracts organisations have in place by checking their Contract Registers (some organisations publish these on PCS, others on their own websites);
  • Update/change the categories you have selected (please find more information below in the next question and response);
  • Speak to public sector procurement officers and ask what their requirements are;
  • Check your details are up-to-date;
  • You should consider making your PCS contact e-mail address a general contract address that several people in your organisation can access, so that an opportunity is not missed if an individual is absent, or if they leave your organisation, etc.;
  • Make sure PCS emails from support@publiccontractsscotland.gov.uk are getting to your inbox and are not being quarantined by your organisation’s firewall or spam filter.

I Don't Know If I Have Selected the RIght Categories for PCS Alerts

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.

Do I Need to Register Separately for PCS-Tender (from Public Contracts Scotland)?

Yes.  PCS-Tender (PCS-T) is a separate system from Public Contracts Scotland (PCS) but once you have registered on both systems you can activate integrated sign-on between them – user guides are available on both systems to help you do this.

Who Buys for the Scottish Public Sector?

  • Within the public sector, there are goods and services that every organisation needs to buy e.g. stationery, electricity, furniture, etc.  These national frameworks and contracts (called category A) are let by Procurement Scotland, and any public sector organisation can choose to buy from them;
  • At the next level down there are goods and services that are specific to each individual sector (Central Government, Local Government, NHS, and Colleges and Universities) e.g. all local authorities needs bin lorries.  These sectoral contracts (called Category B) are let by the individual Centres of Expertise for each sector (see diagram);
  • At the level below that, some organisations will collaborate at a regional/local level e.g. Tayside Procurement Consortium is the collaborative arm of the three Tayside councils.  These contracts are called category C1
  • At the lowest level, individual organisations let contracts for their own needs only (these are called Category C.​​​

Category A

Collaborative Contracts available to all public bodies

  • Scottish Procurement

Category B

Collaborative Contracts available to public bodies within a specific sector

  • Scottish Procurement
  • APUC
  • Scotland Excel
  • NHS National Procurement

Category C

Local Contracts for use by individual public bodies

Category C1

Local or regional collaborations between public bodies

 

I Have a Question Regarding a Tender Opportunity. How Do I Contact the Buyer?

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.

I Have a Question About a Tender I Have Bid For. Who Do I Contact?

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.

How Do I FInd Out About Tender Opportunities Outside of Scotland?

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.

What is the ESPD?

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).

Where Do I Find a Copy of the ESPD?

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:

  • A Word version of a full ESPD (Scotland).  This is a manual document that the procurement officer will attach (normally to the Contract Notice).  The procurement officer will have removed any questions that are not relevant.  You will need to enter your responses into the Word version of the ESPD (Scotland) and submit via Public Contracts Scotland (PCS) or by post, if sending manually.  A full, blank version of the ESPD (Scotland) can be found in the Procurement Journey;
  • PCS includes an online ESPD (Scotland) Module.  The ESPD (Scotland) questions are loaded into PCS, which allows you to create your answers on-line in an electronic form;
  • PCS-Tender (PCS-T) includes an electronic version of the ESPD (Scotland).  If using PCS-T the procurement officer will include their on-line ESPD (Scotland) and you will respond by entering your responses in PCS-T.  This ESPD (Scotland) is available on PCS-Tender.

Do I Need to Complete a New ESPD Every Time I Bid?

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.

Do I Need to Answer Every Question in the ESPD?

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.

I Don't Understand Some of the ESPD Questions. What Do I Do?

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.

How Does the ESPD Work?

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.

Will I Be Asked for Proof that my ESPD Self Declaration is True?

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.

What Happens If a Shortlisted or Successful Bidder is Found to Have Misrepresented Itself?

This will depend on what the issue is.  Further information is provided below:

  • If it emerges that a bidder is actually in one of the situations which is a mandatory ground for exclusion, or if it does not meet one of the minimum selection criteria, then that bidder must be excluded from the competition. Depending on the nature and stage of the competition, that may mean either that it proceeds without that bidder, or that competition should be re-evaluated without that bidder’s tender.
  • If it emerges that a business is in one of the situations which is a discretionary ground for exclusion, then the decision about whether or not to exclude that bidder will be up to the public body, which will have to take a decision which is in line with the EU Treaty Principles of transparency, proportionality, equality of treatment and non-discrimination.
  • If the issue is more administrative in nature e.g. mistakes in providing the documentation, then the authority will have the option of inviting the bidder to supplement or clarify the documentation provided.

Is the ESPD Available on PCS-Tender?

Yes, a fully electronic version of the ESPD (Scotland) is available on PCS-Tender.

Why is the ESPD (Scotland) DIfferent from the Standard Form Produced by the European Commission?

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.

Do Sub-Contractors Complete an ESPD?

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.

Does a Consortium Need to Complete an ESPD?

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.

How are Completed ESPDs Submitted?

The procurement officer will have specified how to complete and submit the ESPD (Scotland) provided i.e. either:

  • via the ESPD (Scotland) word document and upload via PCS
  • via the online ESPD (Scotland) module in PCS
  • via the ESPD (Scotland) questions included on-line in PCS-Tender

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.