In common with all Government departments and many other public sector bodies, the Department is subject to the EU Treaty, EU Procurement Directives (EU rules) and UK laws that govern how it may purchase goods, services and works more than a specified value.
Where the estimated value is expected to exceed the relevant EU threshold, requirements have to be advertised in the daily supplement to the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU). The threshold varies from time to time and has traditionally been amended every two years on 1 January.
The thresholds only apply to certain services that need to be advertised and since 1 January 2008, the current level has been £90,319 for those services and all goods. The level for works is £3,497,313.
The regulations also state timescales that must be followed. These are intended to make sure suppliers have a reasonable time to respond to advertisements. This includes responding to requests for expressions of interest as well as responding to invitations to tender.
There are different types of tendering procedures that can be adopted, although the Department has, for the most part, opted for the Restricted Procedure. This means all companies that reply to an OJEU advert within the stipulated time limits will be assessed against the stated published pre-qualification criteria and considered for tendering against stipulated published criteria.
The best qualified firms will be invited to submit a tender. However, the numbers will be restricted to that indicated in the original advertisement.
The Department may also publish an annual Prior Information Notice. This contains information about anticipated purchases of particular categories of goods and services expected to exceed the specific threshold throughout the coming year. The purpose is to give potential suppliers early notice of any planned large requirements.
The OJEU notices are published on the TED (Tenders Electronic Daily) website.
Procurement information on Departmental and Government purchasing can be found on the Government Opportunities website. This contains information on: