The following outlines the steps in managing the receipt of competitive sealed bids, for completeness, the steps start at the identification of the need and confirmation of the availability of funds. All the steps should apply to tenders and those marked with a * should be applied as a minimum control on the receipt of quotations.
Where submissions are made electronically, the process is the same, however, access to the electronic version and sight of the physical documentation will not be possible until after the designated closing time and date. The documents are however, to all senses, locked in a secure location and should not be able to be viewed.
While is it suggested that best procurement practice requires that all these steps are followed, there is a need to balance bureaucracy with the estimated value of the exercise. Therefore, depending on its value/profile and your own institution's practices, the Optional steps may not need to be followed. For example, it is recommended that all steps (mandatory and optional) are followed for all competition with an estimated value above £10,000.
- * After receiving an instruction, properly approved by a budget holder, the buyer will, in consultation with the end-user, prepare a performance-based specification upon which the supplier will base their responses
- * The documentation will state the basis on which the award decision will be made and will include a copy of the institution's terms and condition of contract, for signature and return by the supplier.
- * The buyer will identify potential suppliers believed to be capable of supplying the required product. Note: this may be after responses to an advertisement for the requirement.
- The submissions must be returned in sealed, unmarked, envelopes before a clearly stated time and date. The envelope will display the quotation/tender reference number and required return date and time. Or an electronic tendering system should be used for return of submissions.
- The time and date of receipt of each quotation should be recorded on the outside of the return envelope, or by the electronic tendering system.
- * Any submissions received after the stated closing date and time will not be opened and not be considered.
- All returned bids will be held, unopened, in a secure location until the stated closing time and date have passed, either physically or in a secure electronic tendering system.
- * After the stated closing time and date, the bids will be opened by at least two  members of staff or as required by your institution.
- A written record will be prepared, and retained, giving the reasons for the decisions taken in respect of each submission and of the details of the submission deemed to offer the best value for money based on the award criteria stated in the quotation/tender documentation.
- A recommendation to award the contract to the selected supplier will be forwarded along with supporting documentation to the Head of Department, or nominee with authority to ratify the recommendation.
- * The buyer will complete a final check with the budget holder to ensure the availability of funds, that the product is still needed and that the procurement is to proceed.
- Unsuccessful suppliers will be notified accordingly and provided, if requested, with feedback on the reason for not winning the business.
Note: For EU procurements, the mandatory standstill period will be applied.
The steps given above may appear somewhat bureaucratic; however, they are there to protect you from accusations of treating one supplier more favourably than another. The use of sealed submissions, held in a secure location and opened at the same time in front of a number of people, or the use of a secure e-tendering system, provides evidence that there has been no collusion between the buyer and a supplier.