Contracting authorities may make known their intentions of planned procurements through the publication of a Prior Information Notice (PIN).
The Public Contracts Directive provides a list of information set out in Section 1 Part B of Annex V that should be contained in a PIN.
A PIN can also be published on a contracting authorities buyer profile (i.e. their own e-tendering system or website) but it must be published on Find a Tender Service first and not contain more information than in the PIN published on Find a Tender Service. The Public Contracts Directive provides a list of information set out in Section 1 Part A of Annex V that should be contained in a PIN published on a buyer profile.
Where a PIN has been published the contracting may shorten the timescales when using the open, restricted, or competitive procedure with negotiation.
PIN as a call for competition
Sub central contracting authorities (e.g. colleges and schools etc) can use a prior information notice as a call for competition. This means that a Find a Tender Service contract notice does not have to be published at the time the contracting authority is ready to commence the procurement procedure under the restricted or competitive procedure with negotiation. Instead the contracting authority writes simultaneously to the suppliers which have expressed an interest (after publication of the PIN) to confirm their continuing interest.
If it is intended that a PIN be used as a call for competition it must:
- specifically refer to the supplies, works or services that will be the subject matter of the contract to be awarded;
- indicate that the contract will be awarded by restricted procedure or competitive procedure with negotiation without further publication of a call for competition and invite interested economic operators to express their interest;
- contain information as set out in Section 1 Part B of Annex V;
- be sent for publication between 35 days and 12 months prior to the date on which an invitation is sent to the economic operators to confirm their continued interest
When inviting those suppliers who responded to the PIN to confirm their interest (after the PIN has been used as a call for competition), the invitation must:
- include a reference to the electronic address at which the procurement documents have been made directly available by electronic means;
- be accompanied by the procurement documents, where those documents have not been the subject of unrestricted and full direct access, free of charge, for the reasons permissible in the Regulations.
The period covered by the prior information notice shall be a maximum of 12 months from the date on which the notice is transmitted for publication, or in the case of public contracts for social and other specific services, the PIN may cover a period which is longer than 12 months.