Beginner’s Guide: Tendering for Public Sector Contracts


Is your business looking to start tendering for public sector contracts to help you grow this year and beyond?

In this beginner’s guide to tendering post, we take you through what a public sector tender is, what the public sector tendering process involves, and what benefits there are for winning tender opportunities for your business so you can be a true tender expert.

This information will help you understand the public sector tender process and offer insight on how to bid for contracts in the public sector.

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What are Tenders?

In business and especially the procurement industry, the term tenders refer to the contract opportunities published by public sector organisations for goods, services, works and utilities. The UK government and public bodies support new suppliers, like SMEs, to supply them with these goods or services directly or as a part of the supply chain.

The public sector procurement process requires that a contract notice is published to generate competing offers for the specified business the public sector organisation requires. These call for public sector bids take different structured forms called procedures — open tenders and restricted tenders are the most commonly used — but essentially, they will set out details of what the public sector body wants supplied.

Thus the term “tenders” is now used to cover any public tender opportunities.

What is the Public Sector Procurement Process?

The tendering process in public sector procurement involves four main procedures. These four procurement procedures are used by public sector bodies to award contracts in the public sector tendering process. The Contract Notice will state which of these will be used:

Open procedure

Advertised public sector tenders invite interested parties to submit tenders by a set date. These are evaluated and contracts are awarded to the winning party/parties.

Restricted procedure

This procedure takes two stages. In the first selection stage, all applicants have to complete a Selection Questionnaire (SQ) a shortlist of suppliers is identified from the responses. In the second stage, suppliers are invited to respond to an Invitation to Tender (ITT). These returned tenders are evaluated and the contracts awarded.

Competitive Dialogue procedure

Used for more complex procurements. Following the publication of the contract notice on Find a Tender Service (FTS) and selection process, the awarding authority negotiates with companies to develop suitable solutions.

This public procurement tender process is followed by an Invitation to Tender and contract award. A good example might be a software project where a public sector organisation knows what they want to achieve but not how it will be done.

Negotiated procedure

Used in limited circumstances, public sector bodies enter into contract negotiations with one or more suppliers.

Where to Find Tenders?

Public procurement regulations require all public sector organisations to publish contract notices that are over set values or ‘thresholds’ during the government tendering process. For example, all UK public contracts that are above the threshold must be advertised on the Find a Tender Service (FTS) using a contract notice.

The UK’s home countries — England, Northern Ireland, Scotland & Wales — all have their own procurement portals which publish tenders. Sometimes the threshold is lower than for FTS. For example, English contracts worth over £10,000 are published on Contracts Finder, whereas contracts have to be worth a minimum of £138,760 to be published on FTS. Some public sector bodies will also publish tenders on their own websites.

Tracker is a source of public sector & government tenders — our expert research team track down tender notices under the thresholds as well as high-value contracts to create the UK’s most comprehensive database of public sector contracts.

Bidding for government contracts is easy with Tracker. Sign up for our tender alerts tool to get daily alerts about the latest public sector tenders!

What are the Business Benefits of Winning Public Sector Tenders?

The UK Government currently spends around £700 billion every year, which makes them the largest purchasers in the UK in many industry markets. Winning tenders is the only way to win your share of this lucrative market.

It’s not just the value of the market that makes public sector organisations attractive customers. Consider these other benefits of having the government as your customer:

  • A public sector organisation will not go bust owing suppliers money
  • Payment terms are generally more favourable
  • Payments are better honoured than in the private sector – public sector bodies are required to pay suppliers within 30 days

Therefore, public sector procurement and tendering can provide both high quantity and quality business opportunities.

How to Find Public Sector Tenders in Europe?

Although the UK left the European Union (EU) on 31 January 2020, Tracker Intelligence customers are continuing to benefit from access to the most comprehensive and up-to-date source of public sector contract opportunities and associated intelligence, including those originating within the EU.

The public sector is a vibrant, diverse and positive marketplace for suppliers of all sizes and specialisms — in the UK and globally. While Brexit creates challenges and change, the overall opportunity — aligned to increased investment into areas such as health, defence, education and infrastructure — remains vast.

Tracker offers more tender alerts than any other provider in Europe. Our business intelligence tool makes it easy for you to identify public and private sector tendering opportunities, access meaningful market and industry news, and get the vital competitor insight you need to keep your business one step ahead.

Learn more about the tools that can help you find public sector tenders in Europe and engage earlier with buyers through market intelligence. Tracker also provides valuable information to customers on how to tender for government contracts successfully and access to all OJEU notices and awards.

OJEU (Official Journal of the European Union)

The OJEU (Official Journal of the European Union) is a publication where all public sector tenders valued at a specific threshold under EU legislation must be published. Public tenders are published daily in every official EU language.

All contract notices issued by public sector bodies within the European Union interested in buying or supplying goods, services or works over a specified threshold must be published in the OJEU. This published advertisement is called a contract notice.

You can instantly access OJEU notices and awards with a Tracker subscription.

Are you wanting to find and win more business working alongside the public and private sectors? Test drive Tracker’s contracts finder for yourself with our Free 3 Day Trial and gain access to more tender notices from Europe’s largest publisher.