How to do Business with the London. Borough of Sutton

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1 How to do Business with the London Borough of Sutton February

2 About this guide This guide has been developed to assist businesses wishing to sell their goods and services to the Borough. Contents Introduction...3 Legal framework...3 How the council tenders...4 Tender Process...5 Policies...8 Social Value...9 Freedom of Information Act...9 Framework contracts...10 SME s and the Third Sector...10 Approved list...11 Helpful tips...12 Useful links...13 Useful contacts

3 Doing Business with the Council Introduction The London Borough of Sutton spends in the region of 200m each year on a range of goods, works and services. The Borough receives a lot of interest from organisations wishing to offer their services to the Council. The Borough is keen to encourage a diverse range of organisations both large and small. The aim of this guide is to provide some key information on how the council buys a wide range of goods and services. The guide will help organisations understand how to win business with the Council by: outline of the rules that we must follow explain where to find details of opportunities to supply the borough and how to tender describe what we expect of our organisations Legal framework All procedures relating to the purchase of goods, works and services are established in the Councils main procedural rules the Contract Standing Orders and Financial Regulations. These rules regulate how the Council conducts its business and anyone employed by the Council (all staff and including consultants) must conform to them. They set out the procedures for advertising, evaluating and letting contracts of different values and form part of the Councils constitution. In addition Sutton produces a Procurement Strategy which highlights the key procurement objectives. UK and European Statutory Procurement Regulations As a public body the London Borough of Sutton is subject to the Procurement Regulations. The Borough is required to advertise all contracts above the set thresholds for goods, works and services. The contracts are advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU). All contracts advertised through the OJEU follow a prescribed timetable which Public Sector Organisations are required to follow as stated in the Procurement Directives. The threshold is based on the total aggregate value of a contract. For example a 4 year supply contract with annual value of 45,000 the total value would be 180,000 and would need to be advertised in the OJEU. EU Threshold The current EU Procurement Thresholds applicable from 1 st below. January 2012 are Supplies Services Works 173, ,934 4,348,350 Please note these rates are subject to revision every two years. 3

4 How the Council Tenders The value of the contract will determine which procedure must be followed by the Council. There are a range of procurement methods available for officers at Sutton. These limits apply to the total cost of the goods, works and services to be obtained i.e. the contract sum, not a per annum value. Quick Quote (QQ) Procurement route for low value purchases up to 30,000. Request for Quotation (RFQ) Procurement route for purchases between 30,000 and 100,000 tender threshold. Tenders Tenders will be issued for contracts over 100,000 Open procedure Single stage process where the requirement is advertised and all organisations who express an interest are given the opportunity to submit a tender. Restricted tender procedure A two stage process where organisations respond to an advertisement and are required to submit a pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) which is then evaluated to form a short list of organisations who best meet the criteria. Organisations on the shortlist are invited to tender. This is the process Sutton will most commonly use. The following procurement methods are less commonly used Competitive Dialogue procedure This procedure is used in the award of complex contracts such as those for the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). Purchasers may know their needs but it may be difficult to determine the best technical, legal or financial solution to satisfy those needs in advance. This procedure will allow a dialogue with a number of potential providers with the aim of developing a proposal which meets the contracting authority s requirements. Dynamic Purchasing System A completely electronic procedure used for making commonly used purchases. It is limited in duration and open throughout its validity. For each individual contract a contract notice is published inviting all the contractors admitted to the system. Accelerated procedures This procedure can only be used in exceptional circumstances where normal timeframes are deemed to be impractical. This procedure allows for shortened timescales. 4

5 Tender Process e-procurement The Council has implemented ProContract as the e-tendering system used by all Departments. The e-procurement system automates the procurement process with an end to end tool which is used from issuing the initial advertisement to contract award. Organisations can register and submit their interest free on the London Tenders Portal. Further instructions and support are available through the site. In addition to our e-tendering solution other e-procurement initiatives undertaken by the Council include: Electronic invoice processing. Electronic distribution of orders (via ) Payment of supplier invoices exclusively by BACS. Integration of our current financial package with an online e-invoicing system with the aim of creating an efficient direct commitment line. Advertisement A contract notice or on occasions in addition a local advertisement, will be issued to invite organisations to submit an Expression of Interest. The advertisement will state the procedure to be used. If the competition is using the restricted procedure a Pre Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) will be issued. Pre-Qualification Questionnaire The purpose of a PQQ is to assess a potential bidder s suitability to supply the Council and the ability to satisfy the contract before the tenders are issued. It saves time and effort being unnecessarily spent on compiling tenders. At this stage the Council is seeking to select organisations which can demonstrate their knowledge and ability to deliver the required goods, works or services. Organisations express an interest on ProContract and have access to the Pre Qualification Questionnaire for a particular project. The questionnaire is completed on line and where necessary organisations will need to attach additional documentation required as part of the evaluation. In general the information requested provides basic details about an organisation, verifies that it can be identified as a legitimate, discrete trading organisation, that it has acceptable levels of economic and financial standing and that it promotes good practice in areas of equal opportunities, environmental protection and health and safety. The areas assessed can be summarised as follows: Organisational Profile The first section of the PQQ asks for organisation information. This information is used to establish the applicant s legal status. Financial information In this section organisations are asked for certain financial information. They may be asked to submit audited accounts for the previous three years (or for the period of 5

6 the organisations trading if less than three years). For new businesses an annual revenue forecast may be required. This information is used to assess the financial position of the organisation in relation to the size of the contract. Insurance details may also be required to check that an organisation complies with the Council s insurance requirements. Technical Further information requested seeks to ensure that an organisation has the relevant experience, technical ability and capacity to fulfil the requirements of the contract. Applicants may be asked to provide additional information with regards to the resources that they will be able to commit towards a contract. The information requested will usually require a management structure and biographical information from the team who would be managing the contract. References may also be requested and are important as they help to assess the organisation s ability to deliver similar contracts. The reference will seek to ensure that an organisation has the relevant experience and technical ability to fulfil the requirements of the proposed contract. Equality and Diversity The Council is committed to a policy of treating everyone, including its employees and job applicants, equally. No employee, potential employee or agency worker shall receive less favourable treatment or consideration on the grounds of race, colour, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender, age, disability, marital status or part-time status; nor will they be disadvantaged on any basis that cannot be justified as necessary on operational grounds. Health and Safety Depending on the nature of the requirements organisations may be required to submit their Health and Safety Policy. In carrying out Council contracts, organisations will be required to honour this policy in their treatment of members of the public, their staff, their agents and their subcontractors. Environmental Matters The Council is aware that what it buys has an impact on the environment. The Council is committed to protecting the environment and ensuring a better quality of life for everyone. The Sutton Vision identifies the core values required to attain their objectives. For further information on the Boroughs One Planet Living Policy please visit the website: Organisations will be asked to provide details of their environmental policy. Completing the PQQ Organisations are required to submit the information requested in the format within the PQQ. The PQQ is issued online in an electronic format through the portal. The information supplied by organisations will be evaluated to help with the final short listing. It is important that organisations supply both current and accurate information on their organisation. 6

7 ProContract has the facility to store your information which will be available to upload for any future contract opportunity. PQQ Evaluation Council Officers will evaluate the PQQ s. The aim is to produce a shortlist of applicants who meet the criteria. Organisations will be issued the tender documents based on the shortlist. Unsuccessful applicants will be notified via the portal and offered a debrief if required Issue of Tenders The tender documentation issued via the portal will usually include: Tender letter Letter inviting organisation to submit a tender Sutton Vision, Values and Objectives Details of Suttons Vision and identifies the core values required to attain their objectives Invitation to tender brief and guidance Guidance on completing the tender documentation including details on submission of tenders. Specification Sets out the requirements. Pricing schedule This is the part of the tender document where the pricing structure is entered. Terms and conditions of contract - Defines the legal relationship between the Council and the contractor. Certificate Pack containing The following documents are included in this certificate pack: Form of Tender Certificate as to Canvassing Certificate against collusive tendering Please sign your copies of these certificates, scan them and re-attach them to form part of your response. Failure to do this may render your tender response invalid. Other attachments - TUPE information may also be attached if the requirement is appropriate to the contract. Tender Evaluation Council officers will evaluate the tenders received by the due date on a fair and objective basis. The evaluation criteria will be set out in the tender documents. A matrix is used for the evaluation process. Evaluation will focus on examining how the tender proposals will deliver the service and the pricing mechanism 7

8 (Quality/Price balance). The defined balance will depend on the nature of the contract. Please note that the Council is not bound to accept the lowest tender or any of the bids submitted. Both successful and unsuccessful tenderers will be notified in writing via the portal Interviews and Presentations During the tender evaluation period organisations may be invited to give a presentation or attend an interview as part of the evaluation process. If invited to attend the Council will provide information on the format for the day. Should interviews and presentations be required this will be outlined in the tender document. Debriefing The Council will always endeavour to provide unsuccessful tenderers feedback on their submissions to help them find out why their bid failed. This information can be used to help with any future bids, as being unsuccessful in one contract does not mean that an organisation will be unsuccessful in the future. Contract performance Contracts have to be performed in accordance with the requirements set out in the contract documentation. The Council is continuously striving to improve its own performance and expects its contractors to do the same. Purchase Orders Official orders issued by the Borough should include an order number. It is important that when organisations invoice they include the Purchase Order number on their invoices. Payment information The Councils policy for the payment of invoices is to pay invoices promptly in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Government. Payment will normally be within 30 days unless there is a query on the invoice. As part of the Boroughs Ten Point Economic Action Plan we aim to pay invoices from local SME s within ten working days. Organisations should ensure that invoice details are correct and issued according to the terms of any agreement in place. Delays in payment may occur if the invoice contains errors. Policies Equalities and diversity The London Borough of Sutton positively welcomes and aims to support the growing diversity of the community we serve and the people we employ. The Council are committed to providing services to our many different communities, by a workforce that reflects the diversity of society. Please follow the link below for further information on our policies. 8

9 Sustainability The Council seeks to address the environmental impact of its activities. Organisations are often asked to demonstrate their own awareness of relevant environmental issues through their own policies. The London Borough of Sutton prides itself on being at the forefront of environmental sustainability. We have involvement with the International Council for Local Government Initiatives (ICLEI) and, since 1995, have adopted the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS). As part of the procurement process, potential organisations must supply evidence of an environmental sustainability programme in order to be considered for invitation to tender. This involvement will also ensure all organisations to the Council recognise and address environmental matters relating to their products and services. Sutton has the following requirements for tenderers: For all contracts values at over 5,000 per annum, organisations must have an environmental policy. For all contracts valued at over 100,000 per annum, organisations must have an environmental management system accredited to ISO14001 or agree an environmental improvement programme with the Council. Where the Council's environmental assessment so indicates, tenderers will be required to provide an environmental method statement as part of their tender submission setting out how they would minimise the environmental impacts associated with the contract. Please follow the link below for further information on the council s sustainability initiatives: For further information on the Boroughs One Planet Living Policy please visit the website: Social Value Act The Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 came into force on 31 st January The act requires Public Sector to consider how they can use contracts to enhance the wider wellbeing of the community. This complements existing procurement legislation and reinforces social value as part of the value for money considerations. Freedom of Information Act This legislation came into force in 2005 and entitles members of the public to access information held by public authorities. The Council must respond to all requests for information. Organisations must be aware of this duty, which may require us to disclose tender and contract information. If an organisation considers that any information that they provide is commercially sensitive and would not wish the Council to disclose it, you must advise us of this when returning your tenders to us. Organisations will need to identify which information in their bid is commercially sensitive and explain (in broad terms) what harm may result from disclosure if a 9

10 request is received and the time period applicable to that sensitivity. However please be aware that, even where an organisation have indicated information is commercially sensitive, the council may be required to disclose it under the Act if a request is received. Framework contracts The Borough makes use of framework agreements for the purchase of a wide range of goods and services. Framework contract are often let as collaborative ventures between various public sector organisations working in collaboration. The agreement may be in place for one or more organisations where the prices and terms and conditions have been pre agreed. The maximum length for a framework is normally 4 years but in exceptional circumstances this could be longer. Frameworks do offer the borough the opportunity to take advantage of economies of scale. Such contracts are fully OJEU compliant and using them not only demonstrates best value in the prices charged but also significantly reduces the costs of procurement. There are several public sector consortia who arrange frameworks on behalf of the wider Public Sector. The main consortia used by Sutton are PRO5 (i.e. ESPO/CBC), LASER (Energy) and the Government Procurement Service (GPS). Current framework contracts include the following: Agency Staff Electricity Gas Vehicles Mobile phones Stationery Furniture Photocopiers/ Multi Function Devices Print Management Services Document Management Some catering requirements Where such consortia arrangements are not available, or for whatever reason considered inappropriate, the Council will advertise contracts for tender. Collaboration and partnerships Where appropriate, the Borough will work with other local authorities and public service organisations to maximise economies of scale to deliver cost and service efficiencies Small & Medium Sized Enterprises (SME) and Voluntary Sector The Borough is committed to developing its relationships with local SME s and voluntary sector organizations. All parts of these sectors are encouraged to submit bids for our contracts. All Businesses will be treated fairly by the Council. 10

11 Approved lists - Constructionline The Councils approved list of contractors is maintained on our behalf by Constructionline. The organisation provides an independent accreditation service to ensure that contractors meet our required vetting procedures. Please note the list is only used for construction related services. Contractors are asked to contact Constructionline direct for further information on applying to join the list. Website: The London Borough of Sutton does not operate approved supplier lists for the supply of other goods and services. 11

12 Helpful Tips If you have been invited to tender please bear in mind the following. 1. Read the instructions carefully. Check you have received all the documents stated on the portal 2. Review the evaluation criteria. It is important that you understand how the tender will be evaluated which will help to focus on the important requirements. 3. If you are unsure about any part of the documentation ask for clarification. This should be in writing via the portal using the question & answer step. Take the opportunity to raise queries as soon as possible. Do not leave it too late. 4. Present your tender so that it is easy to read and gives sufficient detail to allow an objective evaluation. Ensure that you have answered the questions and make sure you tailor your submission to suit the contract being tendered. Failure to provide the information requested may result in an organisation being rejected from the selection process. 5. Complete (and sign where necessary) all documentation in full. 6. Ensure that you submit all attachments and supporting information requested in order to ensure that your bid is fully evaluated. 7. Proof read your tender submission. If possible ask a colleague to check for accuracy. 8. Submit your bid on time. Please remember that late tenders will not be considered. 9. Be ready to provide further information and/or give a presentation to the contract evaluation panel. 10. If you are unsuccessful ask for feedback Please remember at any stage if you are uncertain of the process ask for help. 12

13 Useful Links The following sites are useful links for receiving information on current contract opportunities. Sutton business support Contact details and links for organisation which support and advice to businesses: London Tenders Portal- Organisations have free access to the London Tenders Portal to view upcoming procurement opportunities. The portal also acts as the front end for the e-tendering solution currently used by 18 London Boroughs. Website: Government Procurement Service - Government Agency responsible for delivering savings from central Government and the wider public sector. Website: Contracts finder - This is a free service which enables businesses to find opportunities to supply goods and services to the public sector Website: Tenders Electronic Daily - All advertisements from the OJEU can be found on this site. There is free access to the site but organisations will need to register to receive additional information. Website: Useful Contacts For further advice on Procurement and tendering please contact the Corporate Procurement Unit: Website: 13

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