Procurement Process and Strategies
Procurement activity begins with early involvement with the end user/section to ascertain requirements. When the need has been clearly defined an advertisement is placed in one or both of the following (this tends to be threshold/value driven):
- Source Lincolnshire
- Official Journal of the European Union
Expressions of interest are received from suppliers whom will normally then be requested to complete a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (This is a sample document and may vary on a contract by contract basis). Suppliers will then be short-listed where appropriate based on financial/technical/environmental/ethical/community benefits considerations. The Tender document is produced and issued to short-listed potential suppliers:
Each procurement exercise is treated individually and not a standard process. Some will, by necessity, be more complex and involved and thus take longer than others.
In the relevant circumstances a specialist procurement approach can be adopted that takes the appropriate environmental, social or ethical issues into account
- Tenders are awarded based on the analysis of a number of factors and not just on the lowest price.
- The common misconception is that “value for money” equates to “the cheapest regardless of specification”. The Brigade looks for quality products and services as well as keen/competitive prices and good contract management after it has been awarded.
- Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue always seeks to award contracts to the organisation that puts forward the “most economically advantageous tender that meets the specifications
European Procurement Regulations
Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue as a public body is subject to compliance with the European Procurement Regulations.
The European Procurement Regulations were designed to bring about transparency in the way that Public Sector bodies throughout the European Union award their (not insignificant) business.
Any contract for Supplies or Services (within Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue) that is likely to exceed a value of (currently) £139,893 and for Works that is likely to exceed £3,497,313 must be advertised in ‘The Official Journal of the European Union’ (OJEU). This is a publication that is freely available to anyone who might be interested in bidding for a multitude of contracts (not just Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue business). Any requirement that is advertised in Europe in this fashion is then subject to certain time limits in terms of how long the bidding process has to last and how quickly tenderers must be notified about decisions.
The Regulations provide for certain types of contracts to be exempt from the usual tendering requirements but these exemptions are by exception. Normally contracts must follow one of three distinct tendering procedures:
The contract is advertised in the OJEU and anyone that indicates an interest must be sent the Tender documents and invited to submit their bid. This is considered to be the most transparent and fair contracting route but can be highly resource intensive since, depending on the nature of the contract, hundreds of bidders may have to be invited to tender.
An advertisement is placed for ‘expressions of interest’ whereby potential tenderers are invited to submit details of their organisation. The details Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue would normally require include several years of accounts, information regarding your structure, technical ability and capacity. Submissions are then analysed and a shortlist of the most suitable tenderers is produced. Organisations on this shortlist will then be invited to submit their bids in line with the tender documents that Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue produce and send to the shortlisted tenderers. This is the method that is most used within Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue since it allows us to keep the number of bidders at a manageable level.
The Regulations only allow for use of this procedure in exceptional cases and the reporting requirements are very onerous. This procedure can only be used in the following cases:
- where the tendering authority has already advertised the requirement under the open or restricted procedure and this process has failed (eg. no satisfactory bids received).
- where specifications cannot be drawn up with sufficient precision. This will normally only apply in cases where the Authority is requesting bids that will require a high degree of creative input from the supplier or there is considerable uncertainty about the deliverables.
- where the works involved are purely for Research, Experiment or Development.
This is a very brief overview of what is quite a complex area. Should you require any further information, the links in the “Websites” tab may help.