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New CCS policy note on selecting bidders in procurement exercises
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New CCS policy note on selecting bidders in procurement exercises

The Crown Commercial Service has issued a Procurement Policy Note (Action Note 8/16) which contains a Selection Questionnaire, which replaces the CCS's standard Pre-Qualification Questionnaire published in 2015. The PPN provides guidance on the use of the Selection Questionnaire and on selecting and excluding suppliers.

The Selection Questionnaire

All contracting authorities are required to use the Selection Questionnaire for the supplier selection stage of all new procurements covered by the PCR (and accordingly, to stop using the 2015 PQQ).

CCS advises that when using the Selection Questionnaire, contracting authorities should:

  • not deviate from Parts 1 and 2 of the Selection Questionnaire (which features questions about bidders' organisation information and the mandatory and discretionary exclusion grounds).
  • adopt the questions in Part 3 across all procurement procedures above the relevant financial threshold (but see below).
  • report any deviations from Part 3 of the Selection Questionnaire (see below)
  • direct suppliers to use of the EU Commission's electronic version of the European Single Procurement Document (the E-ESPD), and assess any responses submitted by a bidder via an E-ESPD.
  • accept supplier's self-declarations of compliance with exclusion and selection criteria, and only require evidence of compliance when the winning bidder(s) have been identified (or at an earlier stage if this is necessary to ensure proper conduct of the procedure).

Public works contracts

  • The PPN states that the PAS91 questionnaire should be used for works contracts. At present, it is unclear whether this is a strict requirement or a recommendation.

Reporting deviations to Part 3 questions

CCS's expectation is that contracting authorities adopt the questions in Part 3 of the Selection Questionnaire without amendment. Contracting authorities who deviate from the wording in Part 3 are still required to report these to CCS via an email to the Mystery Shopper scheme (PQQDeviations@crowncommercial.gov.uk).

The good news is that contracting authorities are only required to report once to explain deviations, and are not required to provide a new report for each procurement exercise, (presumably where a template document is being used). Any further changes would need to be reported.

Contracting authorities should report changes to the wording of the standard questions and instructions, and any additional questions that are not specific to the individual procurement.

Contracting authorities do not need to report the following changes:

  • project specific questions developed in line with the PPN; or
  • Simple amendments to make the questions compatible with e-procurement systems; or
  • Standard questions which the authority has decided to omit.

Questions on economic and financial standing

CCS advises that minimum financial requirements should be clearly stated, and any methodology for assessing economic and financial standing should be clearly stated. Contracting authorities are encouraged to allow bidders to self-certify that they meet minimum financial requirements, and only carry out checks on the winning bidder(s).

Contracting authorities are not required to use all questions in Part 3 relating to financial assessment – only those which are relevant and proportionate. Where different questions are used, these should be reported as a deviation.

CCS has reiterated earlier advice (see Procurement Policy Note 02/13 on supplier financial risk) that potential suppliers should not be deselected on the basis of turnover or a credit check alone. Contracting authorities who are used to applying pass/fail methodology to assess financial questions may need to justify why pass/fail scoring is reasonable and proportionate for the procurement.

Assessing sub-contractors and supply chains

Bids submitted by suppliers proposing to use sub-contractors should provide a relevant example where one or more of the essential sub-contractors have delivered similar requirements.

Additional questions

Contracting authorities are expressly permitted to ask project-specific questions relating to suppliers' technical and professional ability, provided that they are relevant and proportionate to the contract. Project-specific questions do not need to be reported to CCS as deviations.

More information

If you have any questions about the PPN Note or how to use the Selection Questionnaire, please get in touch.

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