Busting Public Sector jargon

The world of Public Sector procurement can seem daunting, with complex terminology often used. This can deter potential suppliers if they aren’t familiar with the terms. 

As the leading procurement experts in the UK, GovData has compiled this handy list of commonly used terminology and what they mean. 

Authority
Also known as a Contracting Authority, this is the public body organising the procurement. For example, Crown Commercial Services.

Award Criteria
The requirements set out by the Contracting Authority to assess the MEAT (see below). Award criteria must be disclosed, proportionate and linked to the contract being awarded.

Award Decision
The Contracting Authority’s decision after all bids have been evaluated against the Award Criteria.

Call for Competition
The start of the procurement process following the publication of a Contract Notice.

Call Off Contract
After the terms of a Framework Agreement or DPS is agreed, a contract is awarded to a supplier.

Candidate
A supplier in the early stage of the procurement process before the tender stage. If the Candidate gets to the Tender process, then they’re often known as a Tenderer or Bidder.

Central Purchasing Body
Similar to the Contracting Authority which provides a central hub of purchasing activities including the purchasing of goods or services to be sold to Contracting Authorities.

Common Procurement Vocabulary (CPV)
The codes are based on a tree structure comprising codes of up to 9 digits. They describe the type of supplies, works or services forming the subject of the contract. The codes provide suppliers with a method of searching for a particular service.

Contract Award Notice
A notice announced by the Contracting Authority which provides details of the successful tenderer or tenderers who have win a particular contract.

Contract Award Notice
A notice announced by the Contracting Authority which provides details of the successful tenderer or tenderers who have win a particular contract.

Contracts Finder
The UK Government portal for locating contracts over the value of £10,000 but less than £118,000. Terms and conditions of contracts can also be found here.

Crown Commercial Service (CCS)
An agency of the Cabinet Office of the Government specialising in guidance of Public Procurement.

Direct Award / Direct Call-Off
Without running a ‘Mini Competition’, the procurement body awards a contract. The necessary criteria for carrying out the agreement has to be listed within the Framework Agreement.

Dynamic Marketplace
Dynamic markets are an evolution of the dynamic purchasing systems under the current rules. In essence they will introduce for the public sector qualification systems that have been used in the utilities sector for many years.

Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) 
Whilst similar to a Framework, a DPS can be joined anytime whilst the Framework is live.

Evaluators 
Members of a particular Contracting Authority which carry out the evaluation of Tenders with the goal of deciding the preferred bidder.

Evaluation Criteria
Similar to the Award Criteria or the hybrid of both Award Criteria and Selection.

Evaluation Methodology
Carried out by the Contracting Authority, this refers to the terms in which it will evaluate Tenders. The evaluators will assess Selection and Award Criteria and more to determine the scoring methodology.

Find a Tender Service (FTS)
A Government database of contracts similar to Contract Finder however only contains contracts over the value of £118,000. This replaced the EU’s OJEU service.

Framework Agreement
An agreement between one or more Contracting Authorities and one or more Economic Operators which establishes the “framework” for future requirements (Call-Off Contracts) for works, supplies or services. The PCR sets out the requirements for establishing a Framework Agreement.

Framework Operator
The Contracting Authority (or Authorities) who establish a Framework Agreement as a CPB for the benefit of other Contracting Authorities.

Invitation to Tender (ITT)
The invitation for bidders to submit their proposals and price for the procurement. ITT dates can be found on each of our framework pages.

Mini-Competition
A frameworks suppliers are invited to bid by a Contracting Authority on a particular contract. Once all bids have been submitted, the Authority will determine the preferred bidder based on the evaluation criteria.

Lot(s)
The lists of goods, works or services which a single procurement has been divided into. Bidders can be relevant for one of multiple Lots on a framework.

Method Statement
A Statement of Methodology from a bidder may be requested from a Contracting Authority to prove how the bidder can carry out the criteria.

Most Economically Advantageous Tender (MEAT)
The common evaluation method used to select a preferred bidder which represents a combination of value for money, quality, technical ability, social value and more.

Open Frameworks
Introduced by the Procurement Act 2023, Open Frameworks allow new suppliers to join a Framework during its life, new suppliers have the opportunity to join the framework at least twice during its term.

Selection Criteria
Criteria used by the contracting authority to assess who should be shortlisted to go through to the next stage of submitting a tender. Selection criteria are regulated under the PCR and relate to the bidder not the proposal for the requirement. Criteria relate to technical and professional ability, financial and economic standing and certain disqualification grounds (mandatory and discretionary).

Selection Questionnaire (SQ)
A questionnaire setting out the questions and Selection Criteria to be completed by the bidder which the contracting authority will evaluate to determine who is shortlisted to the next stage.

Selection Stage
Refers to the stage where bidders complete a SQ and the contracting authority assesses it in line with the Selection Criteria.

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