In each of the procedures there are minimum timescales laid down regarding publication of notices, invitation of tenders, receipt of documentation etc. When setting time-limits for the receipt of tenders and requests to participate, it is necessary to take into account the complexity of the contract and the time required for drawing up tenders.
The timescales state the minimum number of ‘calendar’ and not working days. If the closing day is a public holiday or weekend, the closing date should be extended to the first available working day.
If there is a delay between the creating of the contract notice and its dispatch to the Find a Tender Service, the start date upon which the submission date(s) is based will be the date of dispatch of the notice to the Find a Tender Service and not the date the advertisement was generated.
When calculating timescales the day you take the action doesn’t count, you start counting on the next day. The end of the time period must end on a working day.
If a contracting authority provides additional information in a tender process after either the expression of interest or the Invitation to Tender has been issued, this must be provided at least 6 days before the deadline of receipt of the expression or tender. If it’s after the 6 days, then the deadline must be extended proportionate to the importance of the information or change.
It is important to remember that the timescales given to potential tenderers must be reasonable and that although shortened timescales may be available, that does not mean that they should necessarily, be applied automatically.
The minimum timescales vary with the procedure used.
For the open restricted, competitive procedure with negotiation and innovation partnership procedures, timescales may be shortened if electronic submission of tenders is permitted in accordance with Regulation 22.
Sub central contracting authorities such as FE colleges can also set the receipt of tenders timeframe by mutual agreement with the candidates involved in the tender process. All candidates must agree. If agreement is not reached, the minimum timeframe for receipt of tenders is 10 days from when the Invitation to Tender was issued.
The timescales for each procedure are:
- PIN notices
- Competitive procedure with negotiation
- Innovation partnership
- Competitive dialogue
- Negotiated procedure
- Contract Award Notice
- Extreme Urgency
- Non-Mandatory Contract Notices
A useful summary of the timescales involved in regulated tender processes can be found in the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 timescale tracker.