Procurement Frameworks – how to get on them and how they work

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Procurement Frameworks are arranged by Public Buying Organisations(PBOs). In simple terms, a framework agreement is a contract issued by one or more PBOs or consortia, describing the goods, works or services they anticipate needing for a set period of time. Suppliers seeking a place on a procurement framework must go through a full tendering process and meet certain requirements to be accepted (e.g. price, quality and quantity). Instead of being awarded the contract for immediate start, the successful suppliers win a place on the framework with the potential of future work.

Public sector bodies that are part of the framework can then order (this is offered referred to as ‘call off’) the goods and services they require from a supplier that is part of the framework list.


What is a “Lot”

Procurement Frameworks are often broken down into ‘Lots’. Each lot is for a particular item or service and suppliers are awarded with reference to particular lots. Depending on what the PBO is looking for, a ‘lot’ can be anything. Some PBOs may be looking for laptops or pencils, others may be looking for a cloud services provider.


What is a Mini-Competition?

Public sector bodies seeking to call off from a framework agreement with more than one supplier can set up a mini-competition to identify the best supplier.

Buyers must invite all capable suppliers (all suppliers awarded a place on the framework) within the ‘Lot’ and cannot pick and choose who to invite.

There are many benefits of using a mini competition, the main one being that it is faster than a full tender process. A full tender process is not needed at this stage as suppliers have already been through a full procurement process to be awarded their place on the framework.


What is a Direct Award?

A direct award can occur when a framework allows public buying organisations to purchase directly from a supplier within that framework. The PBO does not need to run a mini-competition.

Regulation 33(8)(a) of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (PCR 2015) sets out the criteria for making a direct award.


What is a catalogue order?

Some procurement frameworks allow for ordering from a catalogue. This process is completed via an electronic list of products that can be accessed through a PBO’s e-procurement tool.

The catalogue product list is determined by the PBO or contract and is often limited by product, by category or sub-category.


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