Why single stage procurement is the way ahead for the public sector

Clare Tetlow
29 October 2015

There’s been considerable debate recently about the merits and demerits of various procurement methods for public sector contracts.

While there are arguments for and against each approach, when it comes to simplifying the process for businesses of all shapes and sizes, and making it more efficient, I have no doubt that single-stage procurement, minus the pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) is the right way to go.

We understand, from our knowledge of the construction market that each organisation wants to secure the best service for its needs, so the tender process must be rigorous while attracting as many appropriate bidders as possible. This means approaching the market with a clearly thought-out requirement and evaluation strategy, supported by an accurate indication of demand.

An organisation must also make procurement as straightforward as possible for potential contractors to do business with. This serves to open up the tender process to as many companies as possible and gives them the exposure to the process so that they can gain the confidence to bid for work in the future.

Using single-stage procurement, rather than the traditional two-stage approach, supports these objectives for a number of reasons:

• It removes the time-consuming and costly obstacles created by a PQQ. During a single-stage tender process, a contractors' experience, accreditations and insurance are still assessed as usual, but the evaluation is faster and more straightforward, building momentum for the project and keeping contractors, big or small, interested in the work. When procuring for a framework, an additional assessment can be carried out at a later stage to gather any additional information needed to assign a contractor to a scheme, once the project’s specific requirements are known.

• By removing the PQQ, which has proved unpopular with many bidders, contractors are encouraged to focus their energies on the tender. Experience shows this is where they perform best. This can help them concentrate on delivering a bid that best demonstrates their abilities and suitability for all involved

• It makes it easier for bidders, no matter what their resources, to participate. Not all companies have the time or resources to deliver a PQQ as well as a tender, so simplifying the selection stage ensures as many capable bidders as possible stay in the competition. This, in turn, generates as big a pool of commercial offers as possible, increasing the likelihood of finding the most competitive rate as well as the most competent contractor.

As a national regeneration consortium, we have a responsibility to apply our market knowledge to find and match the best businesses with crucial projects for local communities on behalf of our members. The single-stage procurement process is a step forward in finding an effective solution to this challenge, providing us with a way to present a clear strategy with short and long-term intentions to bidders. This ultimately ensures more transparent, constructive ways of working with our partners, benefiting everyone in the supply chain.

Clare Tetlow is senior procurement manager on behalf of Re:allies

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