Invitation to Tender
The ITT assumes that a restricted procedure under Regulation 28 of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 is being followed and that a separate selection/PQQ stage will be held. It is an invitation sent to a shortlist of bidders (selected via the PQQ) to make a formal and detailed offer to supply the services or goods required.
It is important that the ITT contains all the information and detail needed to enable a bidder to compile a fully formed tender for the requirement. The following highlights a few key parts of the document:
- Timescales (section 10) – it is important that the contracting authority designs a proper and robust procurement process timetable which properly factors in the time needed for clarifications and evaluation. Whilst the contracting authority has the right to amend the timetable, doing so increases the legal risk that a bidder may feel it has been in some way disadvantaged by the change;
- Evaluation criteria (section 13) – there have been a number of cases where bidders have successfully taken action against contracting authorities due to inadequate upfront disclosure of the criteria used to evaluate bids and their relative weightings. The best approach is therefore to devise the award criteria, sub-criteria, weightings and scoring methodology upfront and disclose them in full in the ITT;
- Conditions of contract (annex 1) - full terms and conditions for the proposed contract will need to be included in the ITT. These cannot be negotiated following receipt of bids; and
- Specification (section 7) – time spent getting this right will be well rewarded as it will ensure that the bids received are appropriate to the requirement. Requirements around how the supplier should provide details of their pricing (and potentially a pricing template) should be included.
This ITT is appropriate for use in the restricted procedure run under the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, in which no dialogue/negotiation at ITT stage is permitted. If the competitive dialogue or competitive with negotiation procedures are being used, this template will need substantial tailoring, particularly to factor in details of the dialogue/negotiation stages in the timetable and process description.
The ITT document will require tailoring to suit the specific circumstances of a procurement. In particular, amendment may be required to address the following:
- where it is likely that bidders will submit offers as part of a consortium, the contracting authority may want to include more detailed questions about the nature of any consortium;
- where an electronic tendering system is being used, the contracting authority will need to provide details of how this system operates, and how responses should be submitted using the electronic system; and
- use of lots to separate out the requirement into separate categories.