Under the new regulations there has been a change in the way a Prior Information Notice (PIN) can be used by sub-central contracting authorities in the restricted procedure and this blog will take a look at the change and what impact it has on this procedure.
In short a PIN can now be used, by sub-central contracting authorities, as a means of calling for competition in place of a contract notice (Regulation 28) and can also be used in place of a PQQ stage with selected suppliers being taken straight to the tendering stage. This is in addition to the traditional use of a PIN which is to notify the market of a possible opportunity so, under the new regulations, the PIN has a dual function. If the PIN is being used as a call to competition it must contain the information outlined in Annex V Part B I and II in the 2014 Procurement Directive. In summary the PIN must contain standard information such as:
- Standard contact details and information for the contracting authority and how to access the tender documents,
- CPV and NUTS codes, and
- A brief description of the procurement including nature, extent of works or services or value of supplies.
But when the PIN is being used as the call for competition the PIN must also:
- Reference to the fact that interested suppliers need to advise the authority of their interest in the contract or contracts,
- Name the award procedure that will be followed including if it involves a framework or a dynamic purchasing system,
- As far as already known outline the time-frame for delivery of the contract,
- As far as already known, conditions for participation, including if the competition is restricted to sheltered workshops, or whether its execution is restricted to the framework of protected job programmes,
- Provide a brief description of selection criteria and if known the award criteria,
- Set the time limits for receipt of expressions of interest and the form of tender, and
- Outline the minimum and, where applicable, maximum number of companies they intend to invite to tender (the minimum has been set as 5 companies for the restricted procedure.
The timeframe for requests to participate has been set at a minimum of 30 days from the publication of a PIN and a minimum time frame of 10 days for the subsequent tender stage, as opposed to the standard restricted procedure which follows the Contract Notice/PQQ/ITT format which has minimum timeframes of 30 days for the PQQ stage and 30 days for the ITT stage.
The PIN notice does not have to be used as the call to competition – sub-central authorities can still follow the traditional PIN, Contract Notice, PQQ and ITT route with the PIN being used in its traditional sense reducing the timeframe at the tender stage from 30 days to 10 days if tenders are being submitted electronically, provided that the PIN has been published for 35 days to 12 months. Further to this sub-central authorities may negotiate a shorter time frame for tender returns if they have agreement from all of the companies selected to go forward to the tender stage and if urgency has been duly substantiated the time frames can be shortened to 15 days for the expression of interest and 10 days for the tender stage.
Confusing? It seems to be. The main concern would be the ability of suppliers to identify and interpret the new PIN notices – many will not be well versed on the changes to the legislation and will not know to look for PINs as a call to competition or the resulting award stage being as short at 10 days.
The over riding question would be why a sub-central contracting authority would choose a PIN notice and a tender stage. Surely PQQ type questions will have to be asked at the expression of interest stage to decide who should be selected to tender so using a PIN doesn’t seem to be all that different to following the ‘standard’ restricted procedure so why opt for it? Time frames are the same and the same questions will need to be asked of the suppliers. As people active in the market know PIN notices have traditionally only been used on rare occasions so while effectively skipping the ‘Contract Notice’ publication the PIN as a call to competition will have to do the job of the Contract Notice and the PQQ to get to the tender stage.
All in all it seems like another area of the new regulations what was intended to provide a more dynamic purchasing option but in practice it falls flat and I would suggest creates more confusion than clarity.
Suppliers need to make sure they are able to identify PIN’s and understand whether they are being used as a call for competition or just as a market engagement piece. If you are a Tenders Direct customer you can contact your account manager for support with this and your Tenders Direct subscription will already be picking up PIN notices as standard.
If you require any further training or information in the 2015 Contracts Regulations then please contact our training and consultancy team on 0844 561 0675 or email firstname.lastname@example.org