Doing business with us – frequently asked questions

What are the benefits of working with Devon County Council?

The public sector accounts for 40% of the UK’s spending on goods and services with expenditure on anything from paper clips to vehicles, buildings and social care. Devon County Council alone engages in commercial activity in external markets to the value of £460m a year.

Public sector organisations have to be fair, honest, open, transparent and professional in the way they choose and deal with contractors and will always be good payers. Local authorities are less likely to be affected by market fluctuations and are willing to work with organisations to develop and improve services.

What sort of things does the Council purchase?

The council purchases a huge range of goods and services to allow it to provide the services required by the public. The council also pays contractors to provide services to the public directly on its behalf.

Examples can include general stationery, vehicles, technology, food and catering services, furniture, legal services, social care,  and many more single products or services provided to the public via the County Council.

Do I have to be based in Devon to do business with Devon County Council?

No – our contract opportunities are open to all interested suppliers and would usually be awarded on the basis of “most economically advantageous tender”.

Who should I contact regarding contract opportunities?

All contract opportunities can be found on the Supplying the South West procurement portal at www.supplyingthesouthwest.org.uk. If you have any queries these should be directed by e-mail to procure@devon.gov.uk.

How do I get on an approved supplier list for Devon County Council?

Opportunities to be on a Devon County Council approved supplier list are open to any organisation that may want to respond. To register your organisation go to www.supplyingthesouthwest.org.uk and click on ‘Supplier Registration’.

How do I register my organisation with the Council?

To register your organisation go to www.supplyingthesouthwest.org.uk and click on ‘Supplier Registration’.

This will take you through the simple steps to register with the site. Full instructions are available on that site, on the right hand side of the screen, if required.

 

Why is the tendering process so formal?

The process is run this way to ensure that openness, transparency, fairness and compliance to all appropriate directives and regulations is maintained throughout the whole procedure. It also helps to maintain consistency in the way that all suppliers are treated throughout.

What is the OJEU?

The OJEU is the “Official Journal of the European Union”. If the value of a contract exceeds certain thresholds the council is legally required to advertise the requirement and tender opportunity within the OJEU.

Where do I find out what contracts are coming up for tender?

All opportunities are advertised on the Supplying the South West procurement portal. Some opportunities will be advertised in relevant trade publications or local or national press. Any opportunities with a value over the EU thresholds will also be advertised in the OJEU.

At what point are tenders required?

Under Devon County Council’s own code of business conduct the thresholds for tendering are as follows :-

  • Above £1000 and up to £2500 two oral quotations.
  • Above £2500 (£5000 for works) and up to £10000 three written quotations.
  • Above £10000 and up to £50000 three formal quotations to be submitted in writing by a specified time and based on a written specification and award criteria.
  • Above £50000 and up to the relevant European Union threshold four formal tenders.

The European Union has various thresholds for different types of contract and contracting organisation but the main thresholds relevant to Devon County Council are as follows :-

  • Supplies Contracts£139,893
  • Services Contracts£139,893
  • Works Contracts£3,497,313
  • Any contract over these thresholds must be carried out in compliance with all relevant European Union procurement regulations, timescales and be advertised in the OJEU.

Can anyone provide me with training and advice on how to tender for Council contracts?

Devon Procurement Services runs occasional training sessions designed specifically to help suppliers through the tender process. These are generally publicised in local press and via social media.

Any queries can be e-mailed to procure@devon.gov.uk. If you have any queries during a specific tender process there are user guides and a question and answer feature available on the Supplying the South West procurement portal.

How can I improve my chances of being successful with tenders?

The “How to do Business with the Council” guide will give you information and advice on how to do business with the council.  The authority will also provide feedback upon request on any tender process you have taken part in whether successful or not to help you in any future tender exercises.

How is a tender response evaluated?

The evaluation criteria for any tender process is agreed by the project team involved and is published within the tender documentation so that all suppliers are aware of them. Likely criteria for evaluation of tenders are quality of goods or service, technical merit, aesthetic and functional characteristics, environmental characteristics, after sales service, technical assistance, whole life cost and cost effectiveness.

Is the council just looking for the cheapest option?

It is extremely rare for a tender to be evaluated on price alone. The method used for evaluating tenders is described as “most economically advantageous tender” which means that a mixture of quality and price criteria would be used to evaluate all responses.  These criteria are weighted, dependant on their importance; price is quite often less than 50% of any evaluation.

Will I need to attend an interview/presentation during the tendering process?

Dependant on the requirements of the contract it may be considered useful for an interview or presentation to be part of the process.  If this is the case full details of the procedure will be provided within the tender documentation.  Tenderers often find this process useful as this gives them the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the Council and its requirements.

Who decides whom to award a contract to?

An evaluation of all responses will be carried out which will include technical, quality and cost. Once the evaluation has been completed and certain checks have been undertaken an award recommendation report will be written based on the results of the evaluation. Once the award recommendation has been signed off by the appropriate budget holder a formal award letter is sent to the successful tenderer.

If my organisation is unsuccessful in bidding for a contract will I be told why?

Devon County Council is very keen to work with the market place and will always provide feedback on tender responses whether they are successful or not. We will provide you with a debrief detailing your strengths and where improvement can be made for future tender submissions.

What are framework agreements?

A framework agreement is an agreement between one or more contracting authorities and one or more economic operators, the purpose of which is to establish the terms governing contracts to be awarded during a given period, in particular with regard to price and, where appropriate, the quantity envisaged.

What is a Contract Notice?

A Contract Notice is an advertisement notifying suppliers of a contract opportunity. This may be in the OJEU or any other media.

The council’s procedures seem to be long winded and complicated, do they really need to be like this?

As a local authority we are bound by a number of rules and regulations dictating the way we conduct procurement. The Council is bound by the following rules and regulations:

  • DCC internal code of business conduct which is designed to ensure that public money is spent in a transparent and responsible way
  • UK law which dictates how business should be carried out
  • The European Union Procurement Directives which aim to ensure that the procurement process remains fair, open, transparent and open to all regardless of geographical boundaries within the EU

What is the Devon Procurement Partnership (DPP)?

The Devon Procurement Partnership (DPP) is a partnership of public organisations operating within Devon which include:

Community Council of Devon, Devon and Cornwall Police Authority, Devon County Council, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Services, Dartmoor National Park, Devon Primary Care Trust, Devon Rural Network, Devon Towns Forum, East Devon District Council, Exeter City Council, Exeter University, Land Registry, Market and Coastal Towns Association, Mid Devon District Council, Met Office, North Devon District Council, Plymouth City Council, South Hams District Council, Teignbridge District Council, Torbay Council, Torridge District Council, West Devon Borough Council.