Competitive dialogue

Under the Competitive Dialogue procedure, any economic operator (supplier) may request to participate in the exercise. The contracting authority makes an initial evaluation of the candidates based upon the grounds of exclusion and the selection criteria published in the contract notice. It then enters into a dialogue with the candidates the aim of which shall be to identify and define the means best suited to satisfying their needs.

Note: It is important that the grounds for exclusion, the selection and the award criteria are not confused and used at the wrong stage of the tendering process. A contracting authority cannot take account of a tenderer's experience, manpower, equipment or ability to perform the contract by an anticipated deadline (which are selection criteria relating to capability) as part of the award criteria.  Such criteria should only be taken into account at pre-qualification stage.

A notice is published in the Find a Tender Service to indicate the use of the competitive dialogue procedure.  Suppliers respond to the advertisement and request to participate. The procedure may be completed in successive stages in order to reduce the number of potential solutions by applying the particular award criteria.

Final tenders are then sought from the participants for the solution(s) identified during the dialogue and are assessed against the published award criteria.

As suppliers are removed from the tender process, they should be so advised and, if requested, de-briefed within 15 days of receiving such a request.

After the award decision has been made

  • all remaining bidders must be advised of the proposed award decision including the information detailed in a Regulation 86 notice and the mandatory standstill period observed;
  • a contract award notice must be published on the Find a Tender Service within 30 days of the contract award;
  • a contract award notice must be published on Contracts Finder within 90 calendar days of the contract award date but not before publication of the Find a Tender Service contract award notice;
  • any request from a supplier to be de-briefed must be completed within 15 days of the request.

Competitive dialogue can only be used for works, supplies or services fulfilling one or more of the following criteria:

  1. the needs of the contracting authority cannot be met without adaptation of readily available solutions;
  2. they include design or innovative solutions;
  3. the contract cannot be awarded without prior negotiation because of specific circumstances related to the nature, the complexity or the legal and financial make-up or because of risks attaching to them;
  4. the technical specifications cannot be established with sufficient precision by the contracting authority with reference to a standard, European Technical Assessment, common technical specification or technical reference;

The competitive dialogue procedure can be used with regards to works, supplies or services where, in response to an open or restricted procedure only irregular or unacceptable tenders are submitted.