Procurement - questions

How do we buy goods and provide services?

Stirling Council adopts a range of rules for its procurement.  These are based on European legislation, the Council's Contract Standing Orders and Procurement Best Practice, with the processes adopted for each contract reflecting the value, risks and expected lifetime of the contract.

The rules applying to each contract value are in the Council's Contract Standing Orders.

The most formal - and complex - method of Procurement includes advertising in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU).  Stirling Council must adhere to a variety of procedures, including timescales, advertising, evaluation methods and contract award procedures.

Formal tenders apply to lower value contracts, but involve similar processes without a need to advertise in OJEU.

The least formal procurement process applies to a Request for a Quotation(RFQ).  RFQs are issued for lower value purchases, but formal procedures also apply to these.

The procedures are designed to ensure that all companies interested in Stirling Council contracts are treated fairly and that all decisions are transparent.

2.  Who buys goods and services for Stirling Council?

The Procurement Team provide support and guidance to enable Stirling Council staff to undertake procurement exercises for goods and services.

3.  How can I supply goods or provide services to Stirling Council?

To ensure fair competition we advertise all our procurement needs on Public Contracts Scotland.  Stirling Council does not maintain or use an Approved Supplier List to invite companies to bid for Council business.

Companies must apply for inclusion in the procurement process when an opportunity is advertised.  Each advert states exactly what a company needs to do to be considered.

Generally:

  • No verbal applications are accepted.

4.  What about Approved or Select Lists?

Stirling Council does not maintain or use Approved or Select Lists as they are exclusive and are expensive to maintain.  All procurement opportunities are advertised on Public Contracts Scotland.

5.  Where does Stirling Council advertise procurement opportunities?

Opportunities will be advertised on Public Contracts Scotland and the Stirling Council website within the web page entitled Current Opportunities. They may also be advertised on other websites, newspapers such as the Stirling Observer or the Herald or in trade publications, depending on the requirement.

In addition, all requirements in excess of EU Consolidated Public Procurement Directive thresholds are advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU).  For 2014 - 2015, the thresholds for OJEU contracts are:

  • Goods              £ 172,514
  • Services           £ 172,514
  • Works           £ 4,322,012 

6. Do companies have to complete a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) for every procurement opportunity they apply for?

Procurement opportunities can be either Open or Restricted.

In an "Open" procedure, there is no pre-qualification process, and all applicants are invited to tender.

In a "Restricted" process, applicants may be required to pre-qualify, either through the completion of a "Pre-Qualification Questionnaire" or  through the submission of standard company information.

Information on any pre-qualification process is outlined in every advert.

7.  I'm a local company.  What can I do to supply goods or provide services to Stirling Council?

Stirling Council has to treat all potential suppliers fairly.  That means that we can't discriminate in favour of local firms.  It isn't legal, and we could be challenged by companies that are not local.

By registering on Public Contracts Scotland you will get information about not only Stirling Council opportunities but any other Public Sector organisations in your locality.

8.  How can companies improve their chances of winning contracts?

The first step to winning a contract is to make sure you apply for it.  Register as a Supplier on Public Contracts Scotland.

There are a number of ways in which companies can improve their chances of being successful.

  • Most important is to read and follow the instructions for completion and return of the documentation. Ensure that all of the documented evidence requested is provided.
  • Be open and honest.  If you are unable to answer a question, give the reason why.
  • Do not answer questions by providing annual reports or marketing / sales brochures.  They probably won't be relevant and the evaluation team won't have time to search for the information.

Failure to follow the above three points will severely restrict your chances of winning business and could even result in your proposal not being considered.

There are other factors that could improve your chances depending on the procurement opportunity.  Some examples are as follows:

  • Capability to accept payment by purchasing card to level 3 (Line Item Detail).
  • Online ordering facility.
  • Ability to accept orders electronically - e-mail or fax.
  • Policies in place dealing with issues such as Equal Opportunities, Health & Safety, the Environment and Quality Management.
  • Compliance to the Equality Act 2010.
  • Insurance cover commensurate with the requirements of the procurement opportunity.
  • Technical capacity and ability to ensure delivery or provision of the procurement opportunity.

Please remember that - no matter how much you might like to undertake a particular contract - if your company does not have the experience that the Council is seeking, it is highly unlikely that your application will be successful.

9.  How do companies return procurement proposals?

Full details of how to return proposals will be detailed within the procurement documentation issued and these instructions must be followed to the letter to avoid possible disqualification.

10.  What is the difference between a tender and an RFQ?

Different processes apply, depending on the value of the contract.  The basic principles of what to do are the same for tenders and RFQs.

11.  What are the rules on submitting a Tender or RFQ proposal?

Rules for submitting your proposal are detailed in the Tender/RFQ documentation.  Follow those instructions to the letter.  If you have any queries, the process for asking questions will also be detailed in that section.

12.  How does Stirling Council assess tenders and RFQs?

Different assessment criteria apply to different procurement needs. The assessment criteria for each procurement exercise are established prior to advertising.

Proposals are usually assessed for Price and Quality.  The lowest priced proposal may not meet the quality needs of the contract, which are agreed in advance of the proposals being received.  The balance between the importance of Price and Quality varies, depending on the project.

Quality issues that may be important include:

  • Delivery proposals
  • Stock availability
  • E-procurement capability
  • Design proposals
  • Timescales
  • Health & Safety plans
  • Project management proposals
  • Staff training and CVs
  • Environmental management plans
  • Proposals for innovation and added value


Information on the assessment process is generally contained within the documentation.

13.  What is Stirling Council's policy on insurance?

Insurance requirements are dependent on the procurement opportunity and will be detailed within the contract documentation.  However, as a minimum contracts will require Employer's Liability cover of £5,000,000 and Public Liability cover of at least £2,000,000.  Public Liability cover requirements increase where risk is significantly increased.

Depending on the nature of the contract, we may also require Professional Indemnity cover.

14.  What is Stirling Council's policy on Health & Safety?

Stirling Council is committed to ensuring the health and safety of its citizens, employees, visitors and everyone who uses the facilities and services it provides.

As a result of this commitment, Health & Safety is included in evaluation criteria for procurement processes and Stirling Council will monitor contracted suppliers

Where risks are higher, such as in construction contracts, Health &Safety can be a significant aspect of the evaluation criteria.

15.  What is Stirling Council's policy on Equal Opportunities and Discrimination?

Stirling Council is committed to ensuring equal opportunities and the elimination of discrimination of any type.

Compliance with the Equality Act 2010 is included in the selection criteria for the procurement process.  Stirling Council will monitor contracted suppliers on these issues throughout the contract period.

Where the Council is seeking to appoint a company to provide services,contract monitoring may include the development of performance indicators for equalities monitoring.

16.  What is Stirling Council's policy on sustainability?

Stirling Council is committed to a sustainability agenda that addresses economic, environmental and social sustainability.

Stirling Council procurement can support sustainability in a range of ways:

  • The inclusion of training opportunities within construction contracts.
  • The inclusion of environmental management issues within contracts.
  • The specification of sustainable construction methods including the use of recycled materials, whole life costing and energy management.

Environmental approaches are included in the evaluation criteria for procurement processes.  Stirling Council will monitor contracted suppliers on these issues throughout the contract period.

The Procurement Team is looking at how sustainability can be more effectively addressed within the Council's procurement practice, and are actively seeking innovative approaches in this area.

17. I've been unsuccessful in an application for a tender/RFQ. What can I do?

Stirling Council will give you feedback on your proposal.  We can give feedback over the telephone, or we can arrange to meet you to discuss your submission in detail.

As each opportunity is treated separately, do not be put off by lack of success on one occasion - feedback may help you to understand our needs for future opportunities.

The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 gives you the right to feedback.

18.  What is Stirling Council's policy on Freedom of Information in relation to tenders and contracts?

Stirling Council is committed to the principles of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and is further committed to ensuring that procurement is open, transparent and accountable.  Stirling Council will fulfil its obligations in respect of the Act and ensure that the public has access to decisions made, how those decisions were made and how public money is being spent.

Debriefs will be available to every company submitting a proposal, successful and unsuccessful.  During these debrief sessions individual bidders will be advised of the reasons for the final award decision.  They will also be advised of evaluation areas where they did well and where they did not do well.  They will also be invited to comment on the process and documentation.

Stirling Council will disclose the following contract information as a matter of course via its Publication Scheme:

  • Contract Title
  • Contract Description
  • Contract  Period, including Extension Options
  • Estimated Contract Value
  • Successful Bidder
  • Number of Proposals Received
  • Copy of the Evaluation Model, but without  detailing bidder names (Bidder 1, Bidder 2, etc)
  • Contract details for further information

The Council may be asked to disclose contract information additional to that detailed above, but will strive to advise companies of the information requested prior to disclosure.

During the procurement process, bidders will have the opportunity to identify tender or contract information they consider should not be disclosed as, in their opinion, disclosure would substantially prejudice commercial interests and is therefore exempt from disclosure.  Bidders must note the following in respect of such information:

  • Bidders must provide fully justifiable reasons as to why the information identified would substantially damage commercial interests if disclosed.  It is not permissible to identify such information without fully justifiable reasons.
  • Where bidders do not identify any information where disclosure would substantially damage commercial interests, all information relating to the tender or contract will be disclosed without referral to the bidder.
  • The final decision in relation to disclosure will remain solely with Stirling Council.
  • Stirling Council may be required to disclose any information at any time if instructed to do so by the Scottish Information Commissioner.

19.  What are Stirling Council's payment terms?

There are only two methods of payment by Stirling Council, purchasing cards and BACS.

Payment in respect of purchasing cards will be made by the card provider direct to the contracted supplier's bank account within 3 (three) working days of the contracted supplier processing the transaction.  Under no circumstances can contracted suppliers delay processing card transactions for any more than 24 hours.

Payment in respect of BACS will be made direct to the contracted supplier's bank account within 30 (thirty) days of receipt of the invoice, unless otherwise agreed with the contracted supplier.  The 30 (thirty) day payment period will apply provided that the invoice is correct and appropriate and that part of the amount claimed may be withheld where that amount is disputed by Stirling Council.

20.  What do I do if I need more information?

More information on what Suppliers should expect from public procurement in Scotland is available on the Scottish Government's website.  If you need more information on Stirling Council procurement, then ask!

You can contact the Procurement Team here. 

21.  Does Stirling Council request bonds or guarantees when contracting for goods, services and works?

In accordance with the Council's Contract Standing Orders, Stirling Council may request a bond or guarantee where it considers that the risk involved in any contract requires so doing.  The risk could relate to many things,including:

  • Complexity and business criticality of the contract;
  • Complexity and size of the contract compared to the capabilities of suppliers, service providers or contractors;
  • Financial standing and security of suppliers, service providers or contractors.

In specific circumstances, a bond or guarantee may be requested to ensure that risk to Stirling Council is minimised.

For example, it may be that a performance bond payable by the contracted organisation is required where the size and financial standing of that organisation suggests that there is a risk to delivery of the contract that needs to be considered and managed.

Alternatively, it may be that the organisation contracted is a relatively small group member of a much larger company or is a relatively small organisation that has some other means of financial support.  Where Stirling Council is committing substantial business to such an organisation suggests that there is a risk to delivery of the contract that needs to be considered and managed, it may be that a parent company guarantee or other guarantee from the other means of financial support is required.

The following process will normally be completed to calculate the value of a performance bond:

  1. Calculate 10% of the value of the contract over the contract period, always factoring in inflation from Year 2 onwards.
  2. Calculate the total cost of re-tendering if the contracted organisation cannot fulfil the contract, factoring in every cost involved.
  3. Compare Value 2 to Value 3 and use the lesser of the two as the value of the bond.

A parent company or other guarantee is acceptable if:

  1. The parent company or other means of financial support is willing to offer a guarantee.
  2. CCN Assessment shows that the risk assessment of the parent company or other means of financial support is in the minimal risk category ie 80 - 100.
  3. Annual turnover of the parent company or other means of financial support is at least 3 times the anticipated annual level of the contract.
  4. The maximum contract value that an organisation can perform equals the anticipated contract level.
  5. If the criteria in conditions 1 to 4 above are met, a parent company or other guarantee will be accepted.
  6. If the criteria in conditions 1 to 4 above are not met, a performance bond will be required.

Stirling Council will require its costs to be met where a contract defaults, therefore the same amount of performance bond will be required from each contracted organisation.