Under the Open procedure any interested economic operator (supplier) may submit a tender.
A notice is published on the Find a Tender Service and sent to be published on Contracts Finder within 24 hours of the Find a Tender Service notice being published, stating that tenders will be sought under the Open procedure.
The advertisement will state a date and time by which the tender submissions must be received by the contracting authority. The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 set out minimum timeframes for receipt of tenders that must be adhered to.
When the stated date has passed, the submissions will be evaluated. Under the Open procedure, all tender bids submitted must be considered unless they are excluded because the tenderer fails under the grounds for exclusion or does not meet one or more of the selection criteria stated in the contract notice. Both these steps must be completed before proceeding to evaluate the remaining submissions using the award criteria published in the contract notice or in the tender documentation.
Note: It is important that grounds for exclusion, the selection and 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. Thus within an Open procedure, selection criteria must not be used as part of the award process, they must only be taken into account at, what is essentially, a pre-qualification stage to assess whether the bidder meets the minimum criteria before moving on to having their tender evaluated.
After the award decision has been made
- all 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.