How to handle a grilling on procurement and tendering

This week’s question focuses on the topic of procurement and tendering (T062). This is a core competency for both project managers and quantity surveyors. Candidates must demonstrate competence to Level 3.

If you recall from previous articles, assessors are trained to ask questions that ascertain candidate’s progress against the three APC competency levels:

Level 1 knowledge and understanding (‘knowing’)

Level 2 application of knowledge and understanding (‘doing’)

Level 3 reasoned advice and depth of technical knowledge (‘advising’)

The following questions are typical of those that could be reasonably expected at Final Assessment, particular those who have recorded experience in the public sector (either working as a consultant, contractor or within a public funded organisation) or have submitted a Critical Analysis on a relevant project.

Level 1 – Working in the public sector, where would you expect to find published tender opportunities for construction works and services?

The candidate should make reference to the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) (formerly known as the OJEC). It consists of two related series (L for legislation and C for information and notices) and a supplement (S for public procurement).

The candidate should be aware that according to EU legislation, all contracts from the public sector which are valued above a certain threshold must be published in the OJEU. Very good candidates would know these threshold limits!

They should also appreciate the legislation covers organisations and projects which receive public money (for example Local authorities, NHS trusts, Central Government Departments, Port Authorities are all covered by the legislation and must advertise in OJEU if their contract is covered). Furthermore, they should be aware that some privately funded / managed contracts will also be covered - if a project is in receipt of more than 50% public funds, it would also be covered by the EU legislation (e.g. the Lowry Centre in Manchester and the Millennium Dome).

Level 2 – Exactly how are OJEU notices publicised? Is any organisation permitted to bid for every opportunity?

The candidate would be expected to know that production of the hard copy version has ceased – the term ‘journal’ is somewhat misleading. It is now be accessed on CD ROM or via intermediaries (such as Tenders Direct).

Around 2500 new notices are advertised every week - invitations to tender, pre information notices, qualification systems and contract award notices from over 80 countries world - wide. Around 10% of these are from the UK and Ireland.

Level 3 – Is any company permitted to bid for every opportunity?

The candidate should explain that procuring organisation can elect, subject to the regulations, to follow one of three procedures when issuing a notice. These procedures are:

Open - Any company may submit a tender in response to the notice.

Restricted - Each company must prove suitability to the contracting authority before being invited to submit a tender

Negotiated - The authority negotiates the terms of the contract with one or several companies. This procedure can only be used in certain circumstances.

Level 3 – What criteria are typically used to evaluate tenders?

Candidates show demonstrate an appreciation of the following:

• Financial (accounts, prices, etc.)

• Quality systems (ISO 9000 etc)

• Environmental policy (becoming a major pre-requisite for many authorities)

• Relevant experience

• References

• Site visits may sometimes be used, though they are rare due to high costs and the time involved

• etc