Frequently Asked Procurement Questions

What is the difference between a tender and a contract? 

The term tender means a formal invitation to trade under the terms of offer and the documents associated with that offer. A contract is, generally speaking, a legally binding agreement between parties, where there has been offer, acceptance and consideration. 

Why does the Foto-Cewek ask for a tender rather than a quote? 

We have a statutory obligation under the Government's Best Value Review regime to seek competitive prices. Generally, it is the level of value and risk that determines if we ask for a quote or whether something goes out to tender. 

At what level does a quote become a tender? 

We will normally seek 3 written quotes for lower value work, goods or services. If the value is above £50,000 or the nature of the request is complex, or requires a certain specification that needs to be matched, then we will 'Competitively Tender' the works in accordance with our Procurement Procedures. 

What is a competitive tender? 

This is the process by which we decide who the best provider is. The tender is the completed and priced pre-prepared document that lays out all the terms, conditions and specification. We usually advertise tenders and invite interested parties to submit a tender. The invitation to tender is issued to all suppliers on the same day. They are not allowed to canvass or collude with us, other than to seek clarity. The time allowed for pricing and submitting a tender varies depending on the complexity of the procurement; it is normally around 4 to 6 weeks. All tenders must be returned before a specified date and time before being opened by us. 

What are Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) and European Procurement Regulations? 

When tendering and awarding contracts for goods, services or works, we are legally obliged to observe the requirements of the EU Public Procurement Rules. These stipulate that contracts valued in excess of specified amounts (see below) must be publicly exposed to competition within the European Union. Therefore we are obligated to advertise contracts in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) when contract values exceed these amounts:-

Works contracts - *£4,322,012

Supplies contracts - *£ £172,514

Services contracts - *£172,514. 

* These figures are set by the European Union and are subject to change but are correct at the time of producing this document (November 2015). 

OJEU is the Official Journal of the European Union. When contracts for works, supplies and services exceed a specified threshold value, local authorities and other public organisations must advertise their details in this publication, calling for expressions of interest. 

Where can I get access to OJEU notices? 

OJEU is available in electronic form only either via the Internet on Tenders Electronic Daily (TED) or in CD-ROM format available from the Stationery Office on 020 7873 9090. You can also access notices through the Contracts Finder website. 

Where do you advertise your contracts? 

Contracts are advertised on this website, Contract Finder website as well as trade journals relating to that product or service (where appropriate) and, if the European thresholds are exceeded, the OJEU (Official Journal of the European Union). 

How will I know what criteria you are using for the evaluation of a tender? 

The criteria will be stated in the tender documents. 

If I am unsuccessful, will you explain to me why my bid failed and what can you tell me about the winning bid? 

Yes - this could include a number of reasons. For example, you might be too costly, or have insufficient skills or knowledge, you may have failed to understand what is required or failed to complete the documentation correctly. Whatever the reason, if you ask for feedback, we will provide it. We will inform you who was successful and briefly outline the reasons for the award. 

What are the Timescales for EU Procurement Process 

The open procedure, under which all those interested may respond to the advertisement in the OJEU by submitting a tender for the contract; 

The restricted procedure, under which a selection is made of those who respond to the advertisement and only they are invited to submit a tender for the contract. 

The competitive dialogue procedure, under which a selection is made of those who respond to the advertisement and the school enters into dialogue with potential bidders, to develop one or more suitable solutions for its requirements and on which chosen bidders will be invited to tender. 

The competitive procedure with negotiation under which a selection is made of those who respond to the advertisement and only they are invited to submit an initial tender for the contract. The school may then open negotiations with the tenderers to seek improved offers. 

The innovation partnership procedure, under which a selection is made of those who respond to the advertisement and the school uses a negotiated approach to invite suppliers to submit ideas to develop innovative works, supplies or services aimed at meeting a need for which there is no suitable existing ‘product’ on the market.   

If I want to apply for a tender do I have to submit some pre-qualifying information about my company? 

We normally require all suppliers to complete a questionnaire detailing information about their financial/economic standing and their technical capability. This usually covers information about when you started business or your organisation/company was formed, what experience you have in providing the goods/services/works being tendered for, details of where we may obtain references on your company, and details of your company's finances. We have a pre-qualification questionnaire that can be requested in reply to a contract advice. Once completed and returned you will be considered for tender invitation. 

What tender documentation do I need to do business with Foto-Cewek? 

The contract documentation needed will be provided when we invite you to tender, either in electronic or paper formats. The documentation will normally comprise 4 main sections depending on the contract. These will be as follows: 

• Specification: This describes the work to be done and the standards required; 

• Terms and conditions of the contract: These set out the rules of the contract that will be entered into between us and the appointed contractor; 

• Pricing Document: This enables the tenderer to set out and provide a price for the work. In addition, depending on the type of contract, other documentation could include - Plans or details of sites (where applicable); Relevant policy documents you will need to observe. 

• Method Statements: This enables the tenderer to set out how they will carry out the; goods, works or services. These statements are usually marked and form part of the Quality section of the evaluation criteria. 

My company is new and has few references; will I be allowed to compete for Foto-Cewek business? 

Yes. Foto-Cewek does not discourage new businesses. A view will be taken on your company's suitability and any potential risk to us. Thorough investigations will be made examining your financial status and past performance where possible. You could also be invited to an interview to further examine your suitability. 

Can I submit a tender with my own alternative conditions attached? 

Generally, no. A tender will only be accepted if it is submitted in accordance with the instructions to tender and in accordance with the terms and conditions of the contract as stated.