We're creating a single website for everything to do with BIS but, while we do that, you'll find information in three places. > Find what you're looking for
URN No: 03/1841Y
About the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform
BERR Procurement Organisation
Main Purchasing Activities
Procurement Policy & Strategy
Public Procurement Rules
Terms & Conditions of Contract
Contract Strategy & Tender
The aim of this guide is to give suppliers insight into how the Department goes about buying its goods and services. Hopefully it also enables suppliers to identify potential opportunities to sell to the Department.
ABOUT THE DEPARTMENT FOR BUSINESS ENTERPRISE AND REGULATORY REFORM (BERR)
BERR’s ambition is "prosperity for all" by working to create the best environment for business success in the UK. BERR champions business at home and abroad. It specifically helps companies by promoting enterprise, innovation and creativity. It invests in science and technology. It also stands for the rights of working people and for fair and open markets in the UK, Europe and the world.
In particular BERR provides the following guidance for businesses:
• Helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through both ACAS and Business Links;
• The launch of the Manufacturing Advisory Service;
• Extending the Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme; and,
• Increased funding to the Regional Development Agencies.
The future challenge for the Department is to:
• Continue the improved transformation of business support;
• Implement a new improved skills strategy; and,
• Continue to promote the activities of the Small Business Service and U.K. Trade International.
The BERR website provides a great deal more information on how BERR operates.
BERR has a mixed procurement organisation.
At the centre is the Procurement Policy and Services (PPS) branch. PPS is staffed by professionally trained people and provides a single and consistent approach to procurement within the department and its Agencies. PPS is responsible for the provision of guidance to BERR procurement staff on all aspects of procurement. It has close links with the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) and promulgates procurement policy and strategy. PPS does no buying itself.
There are several “centres of expertise” that are the intelligent customers for specialised areas of procurement. These include Information Technology (IT) facilities, estate management, publicity and advertising.
There are also Management Units that make up the Department’s structure. There are about 65 Management Units and they have the authority to purchase in their own right. They also put in place Framework Arrangements for common goods or services that can be accessed by the entire Department.
Further, the Department has Companies House and the Insolvency Service, both are Executive Agencies. Each of these has a measure of autonomy but generally follows BERR procurement practices.
Finally there are the Department’s Executive Non Departmental Public Bodies. These are not obliged to follow BERR procurement policies and practices or to use BERR Frameworks. They do receive funding from the Department and are Contracting Authorities in their own right and thus subject to Public Procurement rules.
The Department has offices and establishments throughout the United Kingdom. These not only include the offices of the Official Receivers (part of the Insolvency Services) but also Government Offices for the Regions, which are jointly staffed with officers from other Departments.
The Department and it’s Executive Agencies spends over £500M each year on various activities.
Much of this, upward of 80%, is on services. Such services are very diverse in nature and cover activities such as management and consultancy services, cleaning, facilities and travel.
A great deal of this is achieved by devolving budgets to line management (including those centres of expertise referred to earlier) whereby they undertake the purchasing cycle on their own behalf.
BERR is currently adopting a new procurement strategy. It faces several challenges including the following:
• To realise savings from e-purchasing;
• To raise the profile of Procurement within BERR;
• To act on the findings of both the Gershon review and the Lyons report; and,
• To improve Purchasing techniques and Contract management throughout BERR.
Put at it’s simplest it is looking towards a more professional approach to it’s procurement processes. It expects more of its practitioners to gain professional qualifications in procurement, which in turn should lead to the Department achieving better value for money. The central unit – PPS - has trained professional procurement staff.
The Department has embarked on an e-Purchasing programme. The Department looks towards increasing the use of Framework Arrangements and Agreements for its purchasing activities. The possibility of developing a Procurement Knowledge Base is currently being reviewed and we are working closely with the Office of Government Commerce (OGC).
The Department in common with other central Government Authorities as well as many other public sector bodies is subject to European Rules or Directives. In fact they are now part of UK law and govern the way in which we are bound to purchase goods, services and works. They are particularly important when the value of the items to be purchased is estimated to cost over EU threshold values (from £90,319 upwards).
The intention behind the Procurement Directives was to provide a single market with the following objectives:
• Ensure the free movement of goods and services throughout the European Union;
• Develop effective competition for public goods services and works;
• Ensure transparency of purchasing procedures and practices; and
• Adopt standardised technical specifications.
As stated earlier the estimated value of goods, services and works, generally dictates whether the requirements to purchase are advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU). These threshold values vary from time to time – usually every two years. Details of the current amounts and greater information in respect of these rules can be found in the Department’s Procurement Manual, Section E.8.4. - Applicability, on the BERR website.
The Public Procurement rules also dictate that certain timescales must be adhered to when advertising. Although there are a variety of routes that can be followed, the Department has chosen as a general policy to follow the restricted route. Expressions of interest are called for and a short list for inviting tenders is then drawn up from this. The probable number of companies to be invited to tender will be advertised within the original notice.
Notices are published electronically in Tenders Electronic Daily (TED) as well as appearing in the Business Information Publications magazine “Government Opportunities (GO)".
The Department has two sets of standard terms and conditions, which it contracts to. These are designated in the following documents:
Standard Terms and Conditions of Contract for Services - PF31 for Services and PF32 for Supply of Goods.
Both sets can be found on the Department’s Procurement website alongside other Procurement Documents. It is the Department’s policy to contract only using these Terms & Conditions except when a bespoke set is drafted by Departmental lawyers for particular circumstances.
When invited to submit a bid or quote by the Department this invitation will be accompanied by the Departmental set of terms and conditions for the type of contract to be awarded. In addition, a specification and invitation to bid/tender letter will be included. Bidders are expected to accept the Departmental terms. An objection in any way to these or any part of them risks causing a bid to be rejected.
It is important to stick to the deadline given in any tender invitation. Bids which miss the deadline will be rejected.
The BERR procurement strategy dictates that procurement should be carried out by the business unit best placed to act as the Intelligent Customer. As described earlier, common areas of specialist requirements such as Information Technology (IT) are dealt with centrally and items such as stationery are purchased through Framework Arrangements. Other requirements are dealt with directly by units although the intention is to place more requirements on central Frameworks wherever this is practicable.
This mixture of centralised and de-centralised procurement enables the Department to take advantage of economies of scale without the need for a centralised procurement bureaucracy.
The main principle of government procurement is to obtain value for money through competition. The current rules we operate under, described in detail in the Department’s Procurement Manual, are that small value items i.e., less than £500 can be purchased without competition. The Department operates a Procurement Card which is a VISA badged card enabling purchases to be made from VISA compliant firms. Anything estimated to cost between £500 and £10,000 is expected to have seek three or more written quotations prior to a procurement decision being made. For amounts above £10,000 formal tendering normally applies. Where the total estimated cost is over the current European Union (EU) Threshold (currently from £90,319 for central Government, see Procurement Manual Section E.8.4 - Thresholds) Public Procurement rules are followed.
In the case of formal and EU tendering the relevant unit or centre of expertise within the Department will decide which suppliers to invite to submit quotes or tenders.
All units will adhere to a tendering policy that meets the following criteria:
• Avoids over-specifying a requirement;
• Defines specifications wherever possible in terms of output;
• Invites a sufficient number of tenderers to ensure fair competition but allowing those tenderers a fair chance of winning; and,
• Provides all tenderers equal opportunities.
A bid will be successful if it is the one that offers the Department overall best value for money. Part of the specification should contain the broad evaluation criteria used for assessing bids. All bids will be judged against the same criteria. Ensure that bids contain a breakdown of costs. This will enable clarity of your bid.
A contract will be awarded as soon as possible after the assessment process is completed. The assessment process may involve an interview whereby the potential supplier has the opportunity to provide greater details and respond to questions by a panel of officials.
Within limits of commercial confidentiality, BERR will always provide unsuccessful bidders with the reasons as to why a bid failed. This may be face to face or on the phone. Such debriefings should be viewed as a two way process. The comments from the Department should be regarded as constructive. They are aimed at raising the awareness of unsuccessful tenderers, highlighting weaknesses and strengths, to enable them to better compete for future work.
The Department carries out electronic trading. It has used the Government Procurement Card for the last 7 years as a first step in this direction. On line purchasing from catalogues is in place. This covers a limited user base within the Department and includes items such as stationery, IT, mobile phones and training.
The attached list of “Guide for suppliers: Procurement contacts”, provides details of the main contacts for the procurement of goods and services within BERR and our executive agencies.