Procurement Frequently Asked Questions
We hope you find this FAQ useful, please do help us continuously improve this FAQ document by letting us know if there are other questions that we could add that will benefit suppliers.
What is Procurement?
Procurement in the public sector is, to a large degree, a pre-defined and regulated process associated with the purchase of goods, works and services. The key principles of procurement are that contracting authorities shall treat economic operators equally and without discrimination and shall act in a transparent and proportionate manner
At Harrow council procurement requires the delivery of multiple local and national priorities such as economic and social value.
The procurement process itself has numerous activities:
- pre procurement understanding and engaging with the market
- developing a service specification and invitation to tender documents, questions and their weighting, the answers of which we will use to score the bids and identify the winning bidder
- the pricing document in which suppliers are required to set out their price offer, and to which there will be scored weighting attributed
- the instruction to tenderers so it is fully understood what we are procuring
- how and by when suppliers must respond.
How do I find out about supplier opportunities?
The procurement page on the Harrow Council webpage has the procurement pipeline of opportunities. This gives a clear view on procurement over the coming year and the subsequent two years.
You can also find all published contract opportunities on our e-Tendering system ProContract. After registering, improve and narrow your search by selecting the London Borough of Harrow in the search option to find our current opportunities.
What are the procurement rules that the Council must follow?
Procurement regulations fall into two camps:
Firstly, we have a set of regulations that are enshrined into UK law. These for obvious reasons cannot be breached or waived. These are called the Public Contract Regulations 2015 (PCRs) and can be found on legislation.gov.uk
Secondly, Harrow Council has its own set of rules called the Contract Procedure Rules (CPRs). These set out rules for officers to ensure procurement is undertaken not just within the parameters of the legal framework for procurement that is set out in the PCRs but goes further. The CPRs sets out the internal governance framework that Council officers need to adhere to when undertaking procurement.
What happens if I do not get my tender in on time?
In keeping with the key principle of procurement of treating economic operators equally and without discrimination it is imperative that all tenders are received prior to the deadline. It is highly unlikely that any tender received after a set tender return deadline will be considered.
How will my tender be assessed?
Tenders will be assessed strictly in accordance with the Invitation to Tender and Instructions to Tender.
How will I get feedback if I am not successful in a tender?
All bidders, successful or unsuccessful will receive a letter with feedback and in accordance with the PCRs 2015 (amended).
Does the Council try to support local businesses?
Supporting the local economy is a key priority of the council. The Council for many years has been averaging 25% of its third party spend is with businesses in the borough.
We hold annual ‘meet the buyer’ events where we invite local businesses to attend seminars, talks and networking events that will help further understand the Council’s opportunities and processes.
If you are a local SME and have any further questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
What can I do, if, after reading the tender documents, I still don’t understand something?
When writing our tender documents, we look to be as user friendly as possible to ensure there is no room for ambiguity or misinterpretation. However, it is always possible that as a supplier you are confused by something in the tender documents and what is expected of you. That is why all tender processes have what is known as a period of clarification. This is an opportunity for any tenderer to ask a question back to the council about the specific tender and the documents we have issued.
A response to a clarification sought by one tenderer is sent to all tenderers. The only caveat to that being is if the clarification is deemed to be commercially sensitive to the organisation asking the question. If the Council deems it to be then a response will only be sent back to the tenderer asking the question.
All tender clarification questions must come through the e-tendering system we deploy. Individual officers must not be attempted to be contacted by email or phone.
Do I send my tender back by post or email it to you?
Neither. All tender opportunities and associated documents will be issued through our e-tendering portal and submissions must be sent back through the e-tendering system.
What details must I send you to be set up as a supplier?
The supplier setup process at Harrow Council requires companies that we do business with to submit various documents. This is to ensure that we have undertaken appropriate due diligence on organisations we do business with. And that the company’s bank account details are correct as verified by their bank.
This requires details of your bank account to be sent to us either via a letter from the bank or more simply through the relevant information from a bank statement. The relevant information is firstly the account name, this is to ensure it matches with the business we are engaging with, and secondly, the sort code and account number. This information is for most statements found at the top of the bank statement.
This is the only information we require. We never ask any suppliers for the financial transaction information of a bank statement as part of the supplier set up process.
Am I expected to pay the London Living Wage (LLW) to my employees?
Ensuring employees are paid a fair living wage is a priority of the Council and we encourage all suppliers to Harrow Council to pay the LLW.
Does the Council operate an approved list of providers?
No, we do not. We will procure either through open competition or using a compliant framework.
Up to what level of opportunity do you just seek quotations and not a tender?
The Council’s CPRs require only a quotation process for purchasing requirements of up to £50,000. Up to three quotations are required to be sought and at these quotation levels we really try to look for SMEs and local providers.
Is the Council only interested in the cheapest price?
No, we always work on the basis of best value. This is a balance between measuring an acceptable and measured quality level of provision and the best price submitted. In other words, a supplier with an unacceptable quality level will not win a contract because their price is low.
If I currently have or have had a contract with the Council, will I get preferential treatment for future opportunities?
No. In keeping with the principle of public procurement we will not give a supplier we may have an existing or past relationship with preferential treatment.
Each tender opportunity will be run in a fair, open, non-discriminatory way.
What is Social Value and why is it important in winning contracts?
The Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 came into force in January 2013. It cemented the responsibilities of a contracting authority when procuring services contracts subject to public procurement regulations. As such, it necessitates the consideration of the “economic, social and environmental well-being of the relevant area” in its procurement activity.
Social Value is defined as the additional benefit to the community from a commissioning/procurement process over and above the direct purchasing of works, goods and services.
Social Value is a key priority of the Council and we have gone beyond the Act’s requirements and implementing Social Value into all aspects of our procurement activity where it is practicable to do so.
I have heard that the Council uses compliant procurement frameworks for awarding contracts. What are they?
A procurement Framework is an agreement put in place with a single supplier or multiple suppliers. It enables a contracting authority like Harrow Council to place orders for services without running lengthy tendering exercises. It will normally require a competition process but is a faster route than traditional tendering.
Procurement Framework Agreements are Public Contract Regulations (2015) compliant. This removes the need to independently undertake a full procurement process, as this has already been done as part of setting up the Framework.
There are multiple organisations’ that offer frameworks for a variety of goods, works and services. The Crown Commercial Services, ESPO and KCS are some we frequently use.
The Council has declared a Climate Change Emergency. What does that mean for suppliers?
Saving the planet must be a priority for everyone. Even a small change by everyone can make a significant positive impact. For example reducing carbon emissions, reducing pollutant, thinking about how we produce or build, how we dispose of goods, and keep waste to a minimum.
The Council recognises it has great responsibilities when it comes to the Climate agenda. We also recognise that we, along with other boroughs have vast supply chains who we must bring on this journey with us.
We have therefore developed with 7 other boroughs in West London a Climate Change Charter that we expect our suppliers to agree to.
Additionally, we have all agreed a Climate Change policy that will be used to incorporate Climate change criteria and questions in the tendering we do.
So, it is important that as a potential supplier to Harrow Council and more widely across the public sector that your organisation can demonstrate the positive steps you are taking in respect to reducing your carbon footprint.
Any useful tips you can give me?
If there is a Market Engagement event, try to attend, this is a good opportunity to learn more about the contract opportunity. Use feedback received from any previous unsuccessful tenders.
Make sure you follow the instructions in the tender. If we have given word or page limits stick to them. Read the tender documents and instructions carefully and seek clarification of anything you do not understand. Take note of the weightings of the evaluation criteria and answer appropriately to that. Give evidence and examples of any relevant skills and experience in quality questions. Make sure you have answered all the mandatory requirements. Give your best realistic price and break it down as much as possible.
Finally get to understand what the Council’s wider priorities are, such as Social Value and Climate Change and demonstrate how you can contribute to these priorities.