The new UK Public Contract Regulations have changed the way Prior Information Notices (PINs) can be utilised by sub-central authorities. Here BiP journalist Julie Shennan talks to Principal PASS (Procurement Advice Support Service) Consultant Eddie Regan about the implications these changes will have on suppliers.
In the past, Prior Information Noticess were used to inform suppliers that a contract notice was on its way and if the contracting authority so chose, the timescale for tenders could be reduced in the Open, Restricted and Negotiated Procedures. While this functionality is maintained for for central government authorities, PINs now have a wider scope of use for sub-central authorities.
Sub-central authorities, including local councils and certain NHS Trusts, can now use a PIN:
- As a means to notify the market of a forthcoming opportunity;
- With the specific intent to reduce the tender timescales in the Open, Restricted and Competitive Procedure with Negotiation or
- As a ‘Call for Competition’ which negates the need for a further Contract Notice and means that only those suppliers that respond as required will be invited to participate at PQQ in the Restricted and Competitive Procedure with Negotiation.
Commenting on the changes, BiP’s Principal PASS (Procurement Advice Support Service) Consultant Eddie Regan warned that suppliers must be vigilant to catch opportunities.
He said: “When a Prior Information Notice is used as a Call for Competition there will be no further Contract Notice published, so the PIN will begin the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire cycle. When the authority is ready to proceed with competition it will only consider those suppliers that have responded to the PIN. Only those that reconfirm their interest, when asked to do so, will receive the PQQ.”
Mr Regan further cautioned: “Suppliers must keep an eye out for PINs that act as a Call for Competition and respond to them providing the information that is requested. There is no second opportunity in this process.”
Important information in Call for Competition PINs includes:
- The contracting authority’s contact details and links to tender documents.
- NUTS and CPV codes.
- A description of the goods or services sought.
- The expected value of the goods/services sought.
- Invitation to dialogue with the contracting authority.
- Type of award procedure that will be followed (including collaborative models).
- Conditions for participation, including mandatory social clauses for suppliers.
- Description of the selection and award criteria.
- Expression of Interest deadlines.
- Expectations of the minimum and maximum number of companies that will be invited to tender.
- Estimated delivery timescale of the contract.
Timescales also differ at the tender stage when Prior Information Notices have been used with the intent to reduce timescales. In the Open Proccedure, which allows 35 days for response, a PIN can cut the timescale to 15 days.
In both the Restricted and Competitive Procuedure with Negotiation, the 30 day minimum timescale can be slashed as low as 10 days.
To meet this new challenge, Mr Regan suggested suppliers prepare for a fast turn- around.
He said: “Suppliers really need to build a database of their company information, answering the common questions asked during the tender process. The new EU Public Contract Regulations make the selection criteria clear, explaining the information that can be asked of suppliers. Suppliers must use these resources to build a profile of their business.”
Online guides and training also act as vital aids in the tendering process, as Mr Regan explained.
He said: “Suppliers who are new to the marketplace can read the ‘Ultimate Guide to Winning Government Contracts’ or undertake a PASS training course to get a better understanding of the process.”
For more information on the tendering process, visit the BiP Solutions website.