Procurement Procedures

For lower value/low risk procurement exercises under the current OJEU value the procurement officer may elect to run a quotation or a tender.

For over OJEU value contracts, public sector procurement officers must choose to tender using six main procurement procedures.  Some procurement officers may choose to follow one of these procedures even if the contract is estimated to be lower than the OJEU value.

The most commonly used procedures are the Open Procedure and the Restricted Procedure, which both use the ESPD (Scotland) to ask selection questions. 

Open Procedure

An Open Procedure is where the procurement exercise is open to all suppliers.   This means that any interested supplier can bid, within the tender timescales, and the procurement officer cannot limit the number of bids it receives.

This is normally used by public sector procurement officers where there is likely to be limited interest in an opportunity,  to ensure maximum competition (and therefore value for money for the taxpayer).  This procurement procedure is a one stage process i.e. all selection and award criteria are evaluated in one stage

The main points in the Open Procedure are:

  • The contract is advertised by the public body on Public Contracts Scotland (PCS).  The Contract Notice will clearly state that the contract is being carried out using the Open Procedure;
  • Suppliers read the Contract Notice and, if interested in bidding, should note interest in the contract to view the invitation to tender (ITT) and any associated documents in PCS i.e. the procurement documents (or PCS-Tender if the procurement officer is using this system);
  • Public bodies must make available all of the tender procurement documents via the internet.  This access must be unrestricted,  free of charge and made available from the date of publication of Contract Notice.  This is the only procurement process where the procurement officer must make the procurement documents available at the outset of the process.

How Long Do I Have to Respond?

The closing date for the receipt of open procedure bids is generally no less than 35 days from the day after the date the Contract Notice is sent to OJEU for Europe-wide publication. This timescale can be reduced  if a Prior Information Notice was issued 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 an Open Procedure Tender?

  • Register on Public Contracts Scotland;
  • Formally note interest in the contract on PCS (and PCS-T if using);
  • Access the procurement documents via PCS;
  • Respond to the tender either by uploading documents via PCS or respond using PCS-T (the procurement officers instructions will tell you which system to use);
  • Respond to the tender, either via PCS or PCS-T (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.

Restricted Procedure

The Restricted Procedure is used where there are likely to be many suppliers interested in the opportunity. This is because procurement officers using the Restricted Procedure can limit the number of bidders to invite to tender to those with the best capacity and capability to meet the contract requirements, meaning bidders not meeting this criteria do not waste time and resources completing a full tender response.

This procedure has two distinct stages:

Selection Stage

The first stage is where interested suppliers need to complete a European Single Procurement Document (ESPD).  The procurement officer will publish a Contract Notice which will include details of how to access the ESPD (Scotland) i.e. via a Word document, the online ESPD (Scotland) Module in Public Contracts Scotland or via PCS-Tender.  Interested bidders will then have a minimum of 30 days to respond.

The ESPD is a list of relevant questions that suppliers need to answer about their past situation e.g. their capability and experience.  Examples of the questions asked include:

  • Are you bidding on your own or with any other suppliers?
  • Have you been subject to criminal convictions in the last five years?
  • Do you hold membership and/or qualifications of a specific body (as defined by the procurement officer)
  • Do you hold insurance certificates (for values as defined by the procurement officer).

Completing the ESPD allows bidders to confirm (or self-declare) that they meet the relevant selection and exclusion criteria to the procurement officer i.e.  that the responses given meet the procurement officers requirements and there is no reason for you to be excluded from the pocurement exercise.

The procurement officer will then shortlist the bidders who meet the criteria to proceed onto the next stage.

Suppliers who are shortlisted may be asked to provide evidence and supporting documents that they meet the relevant exclusion and selection criteria as declared in their ESPD response.  This will normally be done when the procurement officer has selected their preferred supplier and is about to award the contract, but could be asked for earlier in the process.

NOTE: The Selection Stage does not ask how you would plan to deliver the specific contract.

Award Stage

Suppliers shortlisted at the selection stage will all be issued with the procurement documents.

There will be a minimum of 5 companies invited to tender (where there are at least 5 suitably qualified or experienced companies).

Bidders should follow the instructions included in the tender documents, and prepare and submit their bid as they would with an Open Procedure

It is during this Award Stage that you will be asked questions about how you will meet the award criteria for a specific tender i.e. the future.  Examples of questions are:

  • Please provide a project plan regarding how you will mobilise and implement this contract.
  • Please detail the resources you will put in place to supply and support this contract.

Bidders will normally be given a minimum of 30 days to submit their bid (or 25 days if the procurement officer will accept electronic bids).  These timings can also be reduced further due to other factors e.g. extreme urgency, but the procurement officer will specify the timings involved in their tender documents.

How Long Do I Have to Respond?

For Stage 1 Selection, you will be given a minimum of 30 days to respond from the day the Contract Notice is sent for publication.

For Stage 2 Award,  you will be given a minimum of 30 days to respond to the tender. This timescale can be reduced  if a Prior Information Notice was issued 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 Restricted Procedure tender?

  • register on Public Contracts Scotland;
  • formally note interest in the contract;
  • access the procurement documents available via PCS;
  • access  the tender documents either by uploading documents via PCS;
  • respond to the tender either via PCS or PCS-T (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.

Some General Points:

  • Due to the Restricted Procedure including two stages the process will normally take longer than an Open Procedure;
  • As the procurement officer can shortlist the number of bidders at the first stage, during the second stage you are competing against fewer bidders;
  • The procurement officer does not need to provide all procurement documents at the beginning of the exercise: only the ESPD and enough information to let you decide whether you wish to bid or not;
  • Documents must be provided by the procurement officer via the internet.  Normally procurement officers will use either PCS or PCS-Tender.

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.

Competitive Procurement with Negotiation

The Competitive Procedure with Negotiation can be used by a procurement officer where the contract cannot be awarded without prior negotiation because of the nature or complexity of the goods 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 goods or services required 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 Procedure with Negotiation is being used and will request the completion of an ESPD (Scotland);
  • 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 shortlist suppliers who have met the selection criteria and invite them to the initial tender phase;
  • the minimum number of suppliers who can be shortlisted is three (if three meet the selection criteria requirements);
  • this can be followed by several rounds of negotiation in order for the public body to seek approved offers (negotiations should only improve the bids and not cover the contract fundamentals e.g. price to suppliers);
  • negotiations may result in a new or revised tender being issued;
  • finally, the procurement officer will make a contract award.

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.

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 Procedure with Negotiation tender?

  • Register on Public Contracts Scotland;
  • Formally note interest in the contract;
  • Access the procurement documents available via PCS;
  • Respond to the Selection stage of the process;
  • If successful, participate in the negotiations held;
  • Access the tender documents via PCS;
  • 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.

Innovation Partnership

Innovation Partnerships can be used where there is no existing product or solution currently available on the market.  This procedure is used to stimulate innovation.

Under this procedure:

  • the Contract Notice (published by the procurement officer via PCS) will make it clear that the Innovation Partnership procedure is being used and include the minimum requirements;
  • any supplier may make a request to participate;
  • the request to participate must be accompanied by an ESPD (Scotland);
  • following assessment of the submitted ESPDs, the procurement officer will use a negotiated approach to invite suppliers (a minimum of three if there are that many interested bidders) to submit ideas to develop innovative supplies or services.  There can be several tender stages: the procurement officer will negotiate with all bidders at all of these stages to improve content except at the final tender stage.  The minimum requirements and award criteria of the tender cannot be negotiated;
  • the public body is allowed to award partnerships to more than one supplier.

Commercial confidentiality is of key importance when using this procedure.

Negotiated Procedure without Prior Publication

This procedure can only be used in narrowly defined, exceptional circumstances, e.g.:

  • where no tenders, no suitable tenders or no suitable requests to participate were submitted in response to an open or restricted procedure;
  • where for technical or artistic reasons, or the protection or exclusive rights, the contract can only be carried out by a particular supplier;
  • Due to extreme urgency as a result of unforeseen events e.g. flooding.

In these exceptional circumstances the procurement officer will approach one (or more) suppliers seeking to negotiate the terms of the contract.