The Council is keen to make the tendering process as simple as possible however within the public sector it is important there is a clear audit trail regarding the award of contracts and that the Council can demonstrate value for money regarding its expenditure.
The purpose of this section is to clarify and answer some general questions regarding the tender process whilst raising some important issues about the tender process, which suppliers/service providers should find helpful.
The Council only looks at the lowest price
In the past the main consideration of some Council’s when awarding contracts was price, and the lowest priced quote or tender won the business. Today, however, with the ideals of 'best value' this is no longer the case, although price is still an important factor, other aspects are now taken into account when deciding on the best offer. The Council will consider whole life matters in the evaluation process and will consider not only economic factors but also social and environmental factors. Tenders are scored against a set of criteria and weighted accordingly by the project manager/tender panel and the organisation with highest score wins the business.
Tendering is costly
Tendering is a fair process that is auditable and decisions can be legally challenged in accordance with the EU Procurement Directives. The Council is continually reviewing the cost of tendering and has introduced electronic tendering to reduce costs, saving on stationery, postage and administration. The Council has adopted an electronic tendering system, ‘InTend’, which is an easy to use web based system for sending and receiving tender documentation securely. Access to a PC with internet facility is all a business needs to take part in an ‘eTender’, this use of available technology results in efficiency and physical savings for all parties. Please visit the Dudley MBC eTendering website for further information.
The Council is keen to work with its suppliers/service providers to improve current arrangements and welcomes suggestions to develop and improve current working practices.
Councils should award contracts to local business
This is a view that is sometimes widely held by the business community as companies consider that as they pay their business rates to the Council and employ local labour they should be given priority when Council contracts are issued, however Councils are forbidden by the Local Government Act 1988 (Section 17) from awarding contracts to suppliers on the basis of geographical location.
European Union (EU) legislation also requires Councils and other public bodies to advertise all contracts that exceed various financial thresholds within the countries that form the European Union. Although this may mean that occasionally contracts are awarded to companies outside the UK, it does ensure that the Council considers bids equally from outside its boundaries, in order that best value may be achieved for its tax payers.
The Council within the legal framework will continue to support local business and take into consideration in the decision making process economic, social and environmental factors as it is very keen to support the local economy and the obvious benefits this brings to its communities.
The Council does not work with Small Medium Enterprises (SME’s)
The Council is eager to ensure that SME's that form part of the local economy submit bids for contracts, however as outlined above there is legislation in place that forbids Councils awarding contracts to companies purely because they are 'local' or of a certain size. Dudley Council has taken steps which will assist local suppliers gain Council business and still remain within the law. The Council also advertises all contract opportunities in the local press, and on the Council's web site, attends meetings and seminars with Federation of Small Businesses, LEP’s etc to give local business an opportunity to win Council contracts.
The Council and the Third Sector
The Council is keen to work with the third sector and works closely with Dudley Community Voluntary Sector. The Council is committed to extending the role of Voluntary and Community Organisations (VCO's) in service provision and whilst the tender process can sometimes feel daunting support and assistance is available. For further information please contact Procurement Services
The Tender Process
There are five common types of Tender
Restricted (following an open advertisement)
Tender process from a standing list
The tender process consists of three key areas
Preparation of Tender
Completion of Tender
Analysis of offers and award of contract
and below is a brief explanation of the procedures
Preparation of Tender
The first part of the tender process is to prepare the ‘document’ this will involve drawing up a specification or scope of requirements, determining terms and conditions and pricing structure.
Tenders are usually awarded for a minimum two or three year period, there may be options to extend the contract for a further period, which will be subject to agreement with the contractor.
Advertisements will then be placed before the contract is due to commence, if the tender is valued in excess of the current European threshold then at least 52 days (40 days if the Tender is issued via InTend) must be allowed between advert being dispatched and the closing date of the tender. Advertisements are placed in the local press, publications circulating within business's that would have an interest in the topic being tendered, and on the Council web site.
Tender documents will usually be sent to companies electronically that respond to the advertisement(s) or to those who have previously expressed an interest in receiving the tender and who’s company names have been recorded on a database. Some Directorates within the Council maintain a list of Approved Contractors, companies may be selected in rotation from this list to tender for specific projects.
Completion of Tender
When the supplier/service provider receives the tender documents it is important that they carefully read all the documentation and satisfy themselves that they can comply with all the requirements of the tender.
There will be a contact address and telephone number/email address etc. quoted on the document if the tenderer should require any clarification.
Suppliers/service providers must ensure that the information they provide is correct and accurate. If the tender is accepted the information provided on the tender will form the contract between the company and the Council. Special care should be taken when pricing the document as most tenders will have a period where the prices are fixed and during this period no increase in price(s) will be considered. All price variations after the fixed price period must be supported by evidence before changes are implemented.
Where a tenderer has applied via the Councils electronic tendering system ( InTend) they will return the documents electronically by making an official submission as directed by the onscreen instructions. In the case of a hard copy tender once the tenderer has completed the document it should be returned in the envelope provided, to arrive at the address on the envelope before the date and time stated on the envelope and should bear no marks that would identify the sender. Any tender received that has not followed instructions detailed may be rejected.
Analysis of offers and award of contract
After the closing date all tenders that have been received on time, meeting the Council’s requirements, will be ‘opened’ and evaluated by nominated officers of the Council. The tenders will be analysed in accordance with the scoring methodology previously agreed and is usually tabulated on a spread sheet, where all aspects of the offers received can be compared.
Suppliers/service providers that are selected to support the Councils operations will have completed the tender as instructed, and be competitive in terms of price (economic factor) whilst meeting the Council’s social and environment requirements.
The successful tenderer(s) will be recommended as ‘nominated contractor(s)’ to the appropriate Director for his/her approval. Following his/her approval the contract will be awarded.
What Makes a successful Supplier/Service Provider?
Sometimes it’s perceived that the same companies always win the same Council contracts. In such cases organisations have found the right formula to win Council business. This is likely to include
Completing the tender document accurately and in full
Returning the tender document on time
Knowing their market, and their competitors, whilst returning a bid that is competitive and that will be beneficial to all parties
Showing genuine interest in working with the Council
Sharing the same values as the Council
Having a Business Continuity Plan in place for disruptions caused by major incidents. The Council looks favourably on suppliers/service providers who have such plans and who can demonstrate minimal risk in continuity of service. The Council strongly encourages all suppliers/service providers to be proactive in this matter.