Under the legislation where there is a need for a single requirement that can be divided into a number of stages, or a number of similar or identical requirements, the total value must be used when assessing whether or not the legislation applies. Particular rules have been outlined in respect of each of the types of contract and it is stressed that it is improper to disaggregate the contracting authority's needs in order to avoid having to comply with public procurement legislation.
Within the European context, where the estimated value of the product exceeds published thresholds, there is an obligation to advertise requirements in compliance with the EU Procurement Directives. The Consolidated Directive refers to the CPV codes in its definition of a product and these should be the first reference point. A practical approach is to look to the market to see what makes economic sense. Using tins of baked beans as an example, the market consists of suppliers that sell non-perishable foods, not suppliers that only sell baked beans. The suggestion is, therefore, that when determining if, for example, baked beans should be subjected to EU tendering, it is the institution's total expenditure on non-perishable foods that should be used and not its expenditure on baked beans.
Likewise, when there is a requirement for, say, laboratory equipment, there may be merit in seeking to group items together where there is the likelihood of a number of suppliers being able to provide some or all of the items. Here, it would be hoped that improved terms are obtained because the potential suppliers are tendering for the higher aggregated value of the required items.