For any goods or services supplied to the public sector, purchasing officers must decide which supplier offers the best and most reliable service at the most competitive price. Best practice dictates that any tendering process should follow a defined set of stages.

Stages in the tendering process - download PDF

A formal tender process is not required when:

  • Contracts are of low value
  • There is only one supplier who can provide the goods or services
  • No bids or tenders were received in an open, competitive procurement process
  • Need for repeat purchase due to compatibility issues
  • For technical or artistic reasons e.g. patent or copyright
  • Need to proceed immediately due to unforeseeable circumstances

Tender procedures

There are four main categories of tender procedure:

  • Open procedure - any supplier can request a copy of the tender documents and then submit a response.
  • Restricted procedure - the majority of contracts are awarded using this procedure. It is used when only a limited number of suppliers will be invited to submit a full tender. Based on a Pre Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) or similar assessment the public sector body will select those invited to tender.
  • Competitive dialogue procedure - designed to cope with particularly complex projects such as private partnership projects.
  • Negotiated procedure - used in more complex projects where there are a number of potential solutions or the overall price cannot be determined in advance.