The BBC uses a range of methods to procure goods and services. Find out how we use competitive tendering for supplier selection, and how we evaluate and award contracts.
In order to achieve value for money we use a range of methods to procure goods and services. The choice of method depends on the type of product or service and its overall value. However, competitive tendering is our overall preferred course of action for supplier selection and is generally utilised in the BBC when the value of the goods and services to be purchased exceeds £50,000. The following documents are usually used:
Instructions to tenderer detailing administrative procedures relating to the tender e.g. dates and times, method of tender return, evaluation criteria and where tender queries should be directed
Invitation to tender
The invitation to tender includes:
Specification of requirement
Service level agreement
Commercial, operational, corporate social responsibility
Where the overall value is likely to exceed certain financial thresholds then the BBC is required to follow procedures laid down in the EU Public Procurement Regulations.
Within these regulations there are a number of tendering approaches that can be used and are outlined below.
The open procedure is a one-stage bidding process, where all interested suppliers responding to a notice in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) will be invited to submit a tender. The notice states where interested parties obtain tender documents and the last date when tenders will be accepted. The open procedure is not commonly used by the BBC.
This is a two-stage bidding process in which potential suppliers responding to a notice in the OJEU are subject to a pre-qualification stage. A shortlist is then drawn up and the shortlisted suppliers are invited to submit tenders. The restricted procedure is most likely to be applied where large numbers of applicants are anticipated.
Competitive dialogue procedure
A procedure to be used for complex contracts where the open or restricted procedure would be inappropriate. Potential suppliers responding to a notice in the OJEU are subject to a pre-qualification stage. A shortlist is then drawn up and the shortlisted suppliers are invited to participate in a competitive dialogue.
The competitive dialogue procedure allows the BBC to discuss potential solutions with the suppliers; there may be further shortlisting during this procedure where planned. When the dialogues are completed the suppliers are invited to submit final tenders. Following submission of the final tenders no further negotiation with the contractors can take place.
This is when the BBC, under certain limited circumstances, negotiates directly with one or, very rarely, more than one supplier. This is a very rare procedure and occurs either when another procurement procedure has failed or when one of the other exceptional reasons permitted by the Procurement Regulations applies.
Potential suppliers must demonstrate their financial standing and technical ability to meet the BBC's requirements. The BBC will also take account of potential suppliers' past performance and experience with reference to contracts of a similar nature, both with the BBC and other organisations.
The BBC may also look for a clear demonstration of commitment to equal opportunities in employment, to the environment and to health and safety (where relevant to the subject of the particular contract).
The BBC may ask for references from previous customers, bankers and business information companies and, in some cases, arrange inspection visits to the company and/or its work sites.
Evaluation of tenders
In order to preserve the integrity of the competitive process, it is imperative that the evaluation of proposals is undertaken objectively, consistently and without bias towards particular suppliers.
Tenders will be evaluated against a pre-determined set of criteria. It is very unlikely that contracts are awarded on the basis of price alone. The BBC usually awards a contract to the supplier(s) it considers offers the best value for money. For this reason, the main evaluation criterion will usually be the "most economically advantageous tender" as determined by the award criteria and sub-criteria set out in the tender documents.
The award criteria vary depending on the type of contract. Examples of award criteria, in addition to price, are technical merit, flexibility to future changes to requirements, speed of project delivery, sustainability and quality.
Award of contract
An evaluation team will examine each tender received and make recommendations as to which tender is the most economically advantageous. Once the decision to award the contract has been made, both the successful and unsuccessful tenderers will be notified.
Unsuccessful tenderers will receive a detailed letter explaining the reasons for the BBC's decision and the relative characteristics of their bid compared to the winning bid. These letters will also specify a standstill period of between 10 and 15 days. The BBC will not sign the contract until the standstill period has expired.
A contract award notice will be placed in OJEU (if applicable) within 48 days of the contract being awarded.