The Public Sector is comprised of organisations that are owned and operated by the government and exist to provide services for its citizens. Similar to the voluntary sector, organisations in the public sector do not seek to generate a profit.
Examples of organisation that are treated as Public Sector in regard to Tendering include: Education (Schools and Colleges and some Academies) Emergency Services, NHS, Social Housing Providers (in most cases), Local Authorities, Government and to an extent Utility providers.
Any grant funding with contributions from the EU are also subject to the same rules. The rules in question are the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 which govern how all public finances are spent. You can read more here.
So, how do public tenders work?
In the public procurement process, the term “tender” refers to a process which is ran on an electronic portal (There are over 500 in the UK alone) by a public sector organisation inviting competing bids from suppliers who can provide goods, services, products, works or utilities that an organisation requires with the decision ultimately being made formally on the basis of price and quality.
Below are the current thresholds for public contracts.
Below the above whole life contract values, organisations must adequately advertise opportunities, and central government contracts over £10,000 and other organisations contracts over £25,000 must be advertised on “Contracts Finder”.
Unfortunately, Contracts Finder only has around 30% of opportunities which is why we designed our Central Tender Portal which covers all 500+ UK tender portals and their tenders.
However, contracts worth more than these thresholds must be advertised throughout the European Union using set forms and rules as laid out in the Public Procurement Regulations. The contract notice must also be sent to the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU).
The tender – which can also be called an “open tender” or “competitive tender” – will then be published and the process is open to all qualified bidders. Public sector organisations who issue contract notices have a well-defined tendering process and have procedures in place to ensure that the selection process is fair and transparent although unfortunately this isn’t always the case.
The tendering process starts when it is published by a public sector organisation to generate competing offers to meet the specific requirements outlined in the contract notice.
There are a number of different processes that may be used depending on the circumstances and the value and type of the contract. They will all operate a fixed timescale so always make sure you have adequate time to prepare a quality bid before the deadline.
All tenderers are legally entitled to feedback. This feedback should tell you how the winning bidders response was better than yours in each aspect and where your bid was placed. You are also entitled for a face to face debrief.