Identifying potential suppliers

Regardless of the estimated value of the requirement, it will be necessary to identify possible suppliers from whom to obtain details upon which you can make an informed decision on where to place your order or award a contract. How you identify the suppliers will depend, in the main, on the estimated value of what is needed, for example, suppliers for lower value requirements can be identified using your own knowledge, internet searches etc.

Higher value requirements
For higher value requirements, especially where the expected value exceeds the EU thresholds, an advertisement will be place to which a number of suppliers may respond. In these instances, it may be desirable or necessary to make an initial assessment of the applicants’ to determine their suitability and ability to perform the proposed contract.  In EU terms, this is the selection process completed at the end of the first stage – where applicants express an interest in the tender.

Firms who express an interest are evaluated against the selection criteria published in the contract notice.  This set of criteria evaluates the applicant’s suitability (in terms of its character ie payment of taxes, bankruptcy, criminal activity etc), its economic and financial standing and its technical ability to perform the contract.

This information may be obtained by the applicant completing a Selection Questionnaire.

After the applicants that have submitted the required information and have been evaluated, they are allocated into one of two groups: the applicants that have failed to meet the stated selection criteria and those that have passed.  Depending on the numbers, it may then be necessary to rank the applicants in the ‘passed’ group, in order to reduce the number to be invited to tender to a reasonable number.  It is important that the number invited to submit tenders should be sufficient to ensure competition and under the EU legislation minimum numbers are stipulated: restricted (5), competitive dialogue (3) and negotiated (3) procedures, assuming that this minimum number meets the published selection criteria.

Any applicants not short-listed, and not invited to submit tenders, should be advised at this time and, if they request it, be de-briefed giving reasons for their failure to proceed to the tender stage.

Note: Even when using an open procedure (ie all bids are assessed), there is still a need to assess each tenderer against the published selection criteria to ensure that they are suitable suppliers and considered capable (in financial and technical terms) of fulfilling the contract requirements.  This is before the bids are evaluated against the published award criteria.

For lower value requirements please refer to the guidance contained in the Procurement Cycle section. For commodity-type requirements, please refer to the work of the Consortia and the National Working Parties.