What are framework agreements?
Frameworks are “umbrella agreements” that sets out the terms – particularly relating to price, quality and quantity – under which individual contracts (call-offs) can be awarded throughout the period of the agreement (normally a maximum of 4 years). They are typically used when the buyer(s) identify a need for specific products or services but are unsure of the scope or time-frame.
Do they need to be advertised on Find a Tender (FTS)?
In line with public procurement legislation, if a framework agreement is publicly funded and the estimated total value of all the potential call-offs exceeds the relevant procurement threshold – then it should be advertised on Find a Tender (FTS).
Who can use them?
Any organisation subject to public procurement regulations can publish a framework agreement. Many are published either on behalf of multiple buyers or left open for use by some or all public sector organisations.
How do I secure a place on one?
- Notices announcing framework agreements are published in the same manner as standard invitations to tender
- Suppliers wishing to participate must register interest using the details provided on the notice and will be awarded a place subject to their ability to satisfy selection criteria
- Only those suppliers who respond to the original notice and are selected will be eligible to participate in any call-offs made under the framework
How are call-offs awarded?
If the framework agreement is awarded to only one supplier, the buyer can simply call-off a requirement from them as and when they wish. If the framework is awarded to several suppliers, there are two ways in which call-offs can be conducted:
- If the terms laid out in the framework agreement are detailed enough for the buyer to identify the best supplier for a particular requirement, they can directly award a contract
- If the buyer is unable to identify which supplier could offer them best value for money for a particular requirement, a mini-competition can be held between all the approved suppliers
What are the advantages?
- Possibility of being awarded multiple contracts
- Reduction in administrative burden due to streamlined procedure
- Chance to build lasting working relationships with multiple buyers
- Less downtime between identifying a need and fulfilling it
- Reduction in administrative costs associated with publishing multiple notices
- Potential savings with economies of scale – suppliers may offer more competitive prices
What are the disadvantages?
- No guarantee of business even if you’re selected as an approved supplier
- Suppliers unsuccessful at the selection stage are locked out of any call-offs for the duration of the agreement
- Frameworks are unresponsive to change. There may be new suppliers and/or new solutions within the market that were not included when the agreement was initially set up
- They apply a ‘one size fits all’ approach, which may make it difficult for buyers to satisfy their own procurement objectives
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