For the majority of above Threshold tenders, contracting authorities are required to publish a contract notice on the UK Find a Tender Service and a contract notice on Contracts Finder, stating its intention to seek offers in respect of the requirement that has been identified.
Minimum timescales by which interested parties have to either express an interest in participating in the tender, or make a tender submission will be stated in the contract notice. A summary of the minimum timescales for each procedure may be found here.
Sub central contracting authorities (e.g. schools, academies, further education colleges) will also be able to use the Prior Information Notice (PIN) for advertising purposes in certain defined circumstances.
The contracting authority cannot publicise the contract on Contracts Finder before it has been published on Find a Tender Service or at least 48 hours have elapsed from the receipt of the confirmation of the notice from Find a Tender Service. The contract notice on Contracts Finder must be published within 24 hours of when it is entitled to be published as detailed above. Such publications must not contain any more information than was contained in the Find a Tender Service contract notice.
More information on what is to be included in a Find a Tender Service contract notice can be found in A Guide to Completing Contract Notices. More information on what is to be included in a Contracts Finder contract notice can be found in the Crown Commercial Services Guidance on the transparency requirements for publishing on Contracts Finder.
Note: When publishing a contract notice on the Find a Tender Service and quoting a URL where the economic operator will obtain the tender documentation, this link must go directly to the additional information that specifically relates to the contract opportunity and not be used as a means of advertising an intermediary's services and/or soliciting registration with the intermediary. OGC has published further information on providers of this type of service, called Use of Intermediaries.
Below threshold procurements advertising requirements
The legal requirements in regulations 110 and 112 of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 applicable to below threshold procurements set out the degree of advertising required for below threshold procurements. These are generally referred to as the 'Contracts Finder' provisions. More information on when these apply and to whom, see Crown Commercial Service Guidance on the transparency requirements for publishing on Contracts Finder.
In addition, The European Commission published non-binding guidance on when a below threshold contract might require advertising to meet the principal of Transparency. Generally this was found to be when there might be cross border interest in the contract (i.e. a supplier from another members state might be interested in bidding for the contract). However, now the UK is no longer part of the EU, the Cabinet Office have published guidance that sets out the circumstances in which contracting authorities are permitted to reserve contracts below the procurement threshold to suppliers in particular geographical locations or to SMEs.
Some practical suggestions on procuring below the threshold:
For each contract opportunity, decide whether the particular contract is of interest to providers in other Members States. In order to determine this, the contracting authority should consider the subject-matter of the contract; its estimated value; the particular market involved; and the geographical location where the contract is to be carried out.
If the value of the contract is modest, it’s unlikely to be of interest to providers in other Member States, with the result that advertising is not required, unless you are required to do so under the Contracts Finder provisions. Its is recommended that your findings on whether advertising is required or not for below threshold contracts is documented.
If, having carried out this assessment, the contracting authority determines that the contract is likely to be of interest to parties in other Member States or requires advertising under the Contracts Finder provisions, refer to the UK PPN 11/20 to see if its permissible or appropriate to reserve the contract to a geographical location or particular type of bidder.