Dynamic purchasing systems

A dynamic purchasing system (DPS) is like a framework agreement except that during its life other economic operators (suppliers) may, if they meet the published criteria, join the system.

To establish a DPS, the restricted procedure must be used and the contract notice must indicate that the intention is to establish a dynamic purchasing system that will be completely electronic.  The requirement for an electronic procedure does not prevent ‘human’ evaluation of tenders received under a DPS.  The contract notice must state the Internet address at which documents can be consulted (these must remain available electronically throughout the duration of the DPS), the kind of purchases expected and envisaged quantities or values.

The DPS is a two stage process.  First, in the initial set up stage, all suppliers who are not excluded under the grounds for exclusion and meet the selection criteria;  must be admitted to the DPS.  There can be no limit on the number of suppliers that may join a DPS.  Unlike framework agreements, suppliers can also apply to join the DPS at any point during its lifetime.  Contracting authorities are required to evaluate these suppliers requests within 10 working days of receipt; this may be extended to 15 days if justified.

Individual contracts are awarded during the second stage.  In this stage, the contracting authority invites all suppliers on the DPS (or the relevant category within the DPS) to bid for the specific contract.  The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 Regulation 34 sets out specific rules on how this process is to be conducted.  The award criteria to be used for the award of individual contracts are to be set out in the original contract notice.  These criteria may be ‘formulated more precisely’ for specific contracts, as set out in the invitation to tender for the specific contract.  There is no obligation to undertake a ‘standstill period’, although there may be some benefits in doing so.

After each award decision has been made:

  • all remaining bidders must be advised of the proposed award decision;
  • a contract award notice must be published on the Find a Tender Service within 30 days of the contract award or can be grouped and published on a quarterly basis, which must be sent within 30 days after the end of each quarter;
  • 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.

The Cabinet Office published guidance on the use of Dynamic Purchasing Systems