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Tender procedures

Information about tenders, including Request For Quotations, Invitations to Tender, and how we award contracts

Procurement thresholds

We have procedures in place on how we gain quotations. The process we use will depend on the cost of the order.

Our Contract Standing Orders requirements are as follows:

  • Up to £5,000 - we encourage our officers to obtain competitive prices
  • Between £5,000 and £25,000 - we must obtain at least three quotations against a formal specification in an official Request For Quotation (RFQ) document
  • Above £25,000 - This is either procured via an existing framework, or is advertised as a separate tender, details of which are provided on our current tenders page. A link to 'see tender documents' on the Delta electronic tender portal can be found on the same page

Request for Quotations (RFQ)

Between £5,000 and £25,000 anticipated contract value, the department with the purchasing requirement will send out an RFQ document. They will send this by email to at least three organisations that they believe are able to meet their requirements.

The RFQ will include:

  • a specification of the goods or services required
  • the details of the criteria that will be used to decide which is the best quotation received 

Factors used, as well as cost, may be:

  • delivery time
  • guarantees
  • other quality considerations

Those receiving the RFQ must submit their quotation, usually by email, by the deadline specified in the RFQ. They must direct this to the officer or department that has sent them the RFQ.

Electronic tendering

We now manage all of our formal tender processes online. We use an electronic tender portal called Delta eSourcing.


Our tender requirements are as follows:

  • above £25,000 and up to WTO thresholds - the formal advertised tender procedure applies, as below
  • equal to or over WTO thresholds - procedures according to WTO procurement legislation apply

Below WTO thresholds our tenders will normally be conducted under the "open" procedure as follows:

  • you're encouraged to download the tender documents from our eProcurement tool, Delta, and read them carefully
  • you will need to register on Delta if you have not done so already
  • there may be a Standard Selection Questionnaire (SSQ) included with the tender documents, this must be completed and returned with the tender

Please note, in some low value tenders we may omit the SSQ in order reduce red tape for small businesses. When this happens, we'll require the organisation that comes top in the tender evaluation to provide information after the tender. This is to satisfy us that it:

  • is financially secure
  • is adequately insured
  • has satisfactory health and safety procedures

Standard Selection Questionnaires (SSQ)

As stated previously, in most circumstances we'll advertise tenders using an “open” one stage procedure. The purpose of the SSQ is to ensure that you have the specific insurances, experience, qualifications and financial standing required to be able to fulfil the contract being advertised.

In the case of some higher value contracts a "restricted" procedure may be used:

  • the advertisement will invite 'expressions of interest' (you're encouraged to download the SSQ and other related documents from the Delta portal and read them carefully)
  • if you submit a completed SSQ it will be evaluated to ensure that you meet the minimum selection standard asked for in the original documents
  • if there are a large number of  bidders that meet the minimum standard, we may select a 'restricted' number of companies to tender, based on the responses to the SSQ

In most restricted tenders the SSQ will be based on the standard document issued by the Cabinet Office. For some works contracts the SSQ may be based on the British Standards document PAS91.

Invitations to Tender (ITT)

For purchases/contracts over £25,000 the ITT will include the following:

  • introductory information such as the background to the contract, details of what is required in the SSQ, the criteria to be used to select the winning company, the date and time by which the tender must be submitted via Delta, information on how and deadline to submit queries and a contact point for any site visits (if appropriate)
  • a specification which clearly describes our requirements in enough detail to allow the submission of competitive and readily comparable offers
  • either a draft contract document (terms & conditions) or we will state the form of contract to be used
  • a response form on which the tender should be submitted, and a non-collusion/ prevention of corruption certificate which must be signed by the company and returned with their tender

Tender returns, evaluation and award of contract

For purchases/contracts over £25,000 the following applies:

  • after the closing date and time, the tender documents are all opened on Delta, at the same time, in the presence of at least two of our officers (we are unable to accept any late tenders because once the deadline passes the tender is locked on Delta and submission of tenders becomes impossible. It is therefore vital that you submit your tender on time)
  • the submissions will be evaluated in accordance with pre-determined criteria detailed in the ITT (normally we will award the contract based on the most economically advantageous tender; which means that the award criteria will include non-financial matters such as technical merit, aesthetic and functional characteristics, after-sales service)
  • once the award decision has been made, the winning company and the unsuccessful ones will be informed at the same time (the unsuccessful firms will be informed as to how their offer scored against the award criteria, and how their scores compared to those of the winner)

Invoicing and payment terms

We'll accept invoices by email in pdf format. We'll normally make payments by BACS direct to your bank account. If the invoice is accurate and includes a valid purchase order number we'll pay within 30 days.

If the payment address is within our area we'll aim to pay within 10 days.

Our formal contracts require contractors to commit to pay their sub-contractors on the same terms that we agree with the main contractor.