New to procurement?
Procurement processes and jargon can often confuse beginners. Public sector procurement is governed by regulations and rules. Although they may be hard to remember at first, they have been created to make sure that the procurement process is fair for all those involved.
Getting to grips with it all can take a long time and even those who have been working within public sector procurement for years can get confused.
If you learn one thing about procurement today, OJEU procurement is a great place to start.
What does OJEU stand for?
OJEU is an abbreviation for the Official Journal of the European Union.
What is OJEU?
Public procurement is different from when private companies do business. As public sector organisations are financed by public money raised from taxes, procurement must be fair, transparent and offer value of money to the taxpayer.
When a public sector body within the European Union wants to buy any goods, works, or services over a certain value (“threshold”) it must advertise in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU). This advertisement takes the form of a contract notice, also known as a tender notice.
The OJEU is the online journal in which all these tenders are published daily in every EU official language.
The UK stopped being a member of the European Union on 31 January 2020 and entered a transition period – which is currently expected to end no sooner than 31 December 2020. During the transition period, buyers in the UK continue to have to send their contract notices for publication in the OJEU.
During the transition periodno significant change in public procurement process. The UK continues to be governed by the same procurement rules as the EU because these rules became part of UK law as the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 and Public Contracts Regulations (Scotland) Regulations 2015.
When the transition period ends, changes to the rules and processes governing public procurement are possible – though the core principles of transparency, market engagement and SME involvement are likely to be amplified rather than reduced.
What is OJEU procurement?
OJEU procurement is governed by an elaborate set of regulations, all designed to create a fair, standard and transparent set of rules applicable to every country in the EU, and to the UK at least until the end of the transition period. Public sector buyers are legally required to comply with these regulations.
All public sector contracts worth over a specified value threshold must be sent to the OJEU. These OJEU thresholds apply to all contracting authorities, as defined by the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, including all central government departments, their Executive Agencies, Non-Departmental Public Bodies, Executive Agencies, and the wider public sector.
What is the OJEU process?
When a buyer decides to undertake a procurement (buy something) that has to be advertised in the OJEU, they have to follow one of a set of procurement procedures. The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 set out the procedures, each of which consists of a set of steps that must be followed by both buyers and suppliers.
Each procedure has a different process. We list each of the five most common OJEU procedure below and how they work.
Great for beginners, the open procedure is the only one stage process. Bidders are expected to complete the selection criteria and the tender at the same time and submit them by the required time and date as specified in the documentation.
Our parent company, BiP Solutions, has stated in its Ultimate Guide to Procurement that:
“The Open Procedure offers SMEs a better chance of success as all the parties who successfully meet the selection criteria will have their tender evaluated, whereas in the Restricted Procedure the buyer need only invite five bids and in the other procedures they need only invite three bids.
After the evaluation stage of an open procedure, the contract awarded to the successful bidder.
The restricted procedure has two stages. The first stage is the Selection Stage (SQ), which is identical to the selection stage in the Open Procedure.
This time the SQs are evaluated first,after which the buyer will invite a minimum of five contractors to respond to the Invitation to Tender (ITT) by submitting a full tender by a set deadline.
After the ITT stage, the buying authority will evaluate the responses and the contract will be awarded to the successful bidder.
Competitive Procedure with Negotiation
This procedure is often used for the procurement of innovative solutions, or where customisation may be required, or where a detailed specification cannot be easily produced or there is a need for negotiation with bidders.
Where negotiation is required, this will take place after the return and evaluation of tenders and before an award decision is made. Bidders engaged in the negotiation stage can be required to submit revised or new tenders following the conclusion of negotiations.
The competitive dialogue procedure also has two stages and is used in the same fashion as the Competitive Procedure with Negotiation.
Following the SQ stage, there is a stage titled ‘Invitation to Participate in Dialogue’ (ITPD). At the ITPD stage, buyers will discuss with those successful at SQ the outline of the solutions they are proposing and may undertake mini bidding rounds to narrow down the number of bidders to take to the next stage.
Following conclusion of the ITPD stage, the buying authority will move to the full Dialogue stage of the procedure and will work closely with those invited to this stage, to test and assess the solutions being put forward.
Only once the authority determines that they have exhausted the dialogue and can proceed to tender will they issue the ITT, evaluate responses, and award the contract.
If your organisation offers cutting-edge innovative solutions – pay attention to this procedure.
This procedure was invested for the procurement of goods, works or services which cannot be met by any solution currently available in the market.
Great for SMEs, an innovation partnership encourages new suppliers to bring new solutions into the public procurement arena,
The procedure for this kind of procurement mirrors the Competitive Procedure with Negotiation in its structure and allows the buyer to undertake research and development with the aim to delivering an outcome.
Supply2Gov explains more about the public sector procurement process in the ‘How to Apply for Public Sector Tenders’ blog.
What is the Current OJEU Threshold?
What is “OJEU threshold” ?
Every two years, the public sector procurement thresholds are updated by the European Commission. Supply2Gov provides the updated public sector OJEU thresholds of 2020/2021 here.
These thresholds will help potential new suppliers better understand the value of the UK tenders that are sent to them every day in Supply2Gov’s tender alerts.
How long does the OJEU process take?
Each procedure is different, so there is no one timescale for how long a procurement will take.
That said, the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 set out specific procedures which may be used for contracting and the subsequent minimum timescales that may be applied. You can access these timescales here.
What is non-OJEU procurement?
EU regulations requiring a contract to be published in the OJEU kick in when the value of a public sector contract may or will exceed certain specified financial thresholds.
Non-OJEU tenders are tenders that are below than the threshold value.
Find OJEU tenders with Supply2Gov
Find OJEU tenders with Supply2Gov.
Supply2Gov users will continue to benefit from access to the most comprehensive and up to date source of contract opportunities in the UK and in Ireland throughout the “transition period”.
The UK public sector is a vibrant, diverse, and positive marketplace for suppliers of all sizes and specialisms. While Brexit creates challenges and change, the overall opportunity – aligned to increased investment into areas such as health, defence, education, and infrastructure – remains vast.
At Supply2Gov we help new and existing suppliers find contracts that are right for their business, to help them grow in this lucrative market.
Find the right OJEU tender for your business. Sign up to Supply2Gov tender alerts and start receiving tender opportunities straight to your inbox. You will gain access to one free geographical location of your choice to help get you started.
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If you liked this blog, read our “How do I apply for a tender in the UK?” blog next.