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Timescales under the 2015 Public Contracts Regulations – updated

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The Timescales

Open Procedure

Normally 35 calendar days.
This can be reduced to 30 days if tender responses are submitted electronically.

Or

15 calendar days if a Prior Information Notice (PIN) has been published for at least 35 days and no longer than 12 months.
The purpose of a PIN is to alert potential tenderers of forthcoming contracts which will be advertised. As prior warning of the notice has been given it is understood that a substantial reduction can be granted however to ensure this is not abused the age of the PIN is significant. An exception to this is granted to “social and other specific services” (i.e. those potentially subject to the Light Touch Regime). These types of services can apply this reduction using a PIN that was published over 12 months prior.

Accelerated Open Procedure

15 calendar days.
No further reductions apply.
If this procedure is being used then the contracting authority must specify in the tender itself the reason for the urgency of the procurement.
This is a new procedure type under the 2015 regulations. The justification for accelerating a procedure is discussed in more detail within this blog post.

Restricted Procedure

Competitive Procedure With Negotiation (previously referred to as the “Negotiated Procedure”)

Both of these procedures have the same rules surrounding minimum timescales.

Stage 1 (pre-qualification stage)

30 calendar days.
No reductions are applicable to this stage.

Or

Sub-central contracting authorities can substitute the contract notice (this stage 1) with the publication of a PIN. This PIN must clearly state that it is the call for competition and that the buyer will be proceeding straight to the second stage. Further information on this can be found here.

Stage 2

Normally 30 calendar days.
This can be reduced to 25 calendar days if tender responses are submitted electronically.

Or

10 calendar days if a Prior Information Notice has been published for at least 35 days and no longer than 12 months.
This can only be used where the stage 1 contract notice has been published. The use of a PIN as a call for competition does not qualify the stage 2 for this reduction.
The purpose of a PIN is to alert potential tenderers of forthcoming contracts which will be advertised. If prior warning of the notice has been given it is understood that a substantial reduction can be granted however to ensure this is not abused the age of the PIN is significant. An exception to this is granted to “social and other specific services” (i.e. those potentially subject to the Light Touch Regime). These types of services can apply a reduction using a PIN that was published over 12 months prior.

Or

Sub-central contracting authorities can agree any timescale with bidders and if not agreed with bidders then the buyer can set a time limit to as low as 10 calendar days.

Accelerated Restricted Procedure and Accelerated Open Procedure With Negotiation (previously referred to as the “Accelerated Negotiated Procedure”)

Both of these procedures have the same rules surrounding minimum timescales.

Stage 1 (pre-qualification stage)

15 calendar days.
No further reductions apply.
If this procedure is being used then the contracting authority must specify in the tender itself the reason for the urgency of the procurement. The justification for accelerating a procedure is discussed in more detail within this blog post.

Stage 2

10 calendar days.
No further reductions apply.
The intention to use the accelerated procedure and the justification must have been specified within the first stage advert as mentioned above.

Innovation Partnership

As described in Regulation 31(2), this procurement procedure is intended for use when “an innovative product, service or works that cannot be met by (those) … already available on the market” is required.

Stage 1 (pre-qualification stage)

30 calendar days.
No reductions are applicable to this stage.

Stage 2

Normally 30 calendar days.
This can be reduced to 25 calendar days if tender responses submitted electronically.

Or

10 calendar days if a Prior Information Notice (PIN) has been published for at least 35 days and no longer than 12 months.
The purpose of a PIN is to alert potential tenderers of forthcoming contracts which will be advertised. As prior warning of the notice has been given it is understood that a substantial reduction can be granted however to ensure this is not abused the age of the PIN is significant. An exception to this is granted to “social and other specific services” (i.e. those potentially subject to the Light Touch Regime). These types of services can apply this reduction using a PIN that was published over 12 months prior.

Or

Sub-central contracting authorities, can agree any timescale with bidders and if not agreed with bidders then the buyer can set a time limit to as low as 10 calendar days.

Accelerated Innovation Partnership

Stage 1 (pre-qualification stage)

15 calendar days.
No further reductions apply.
If this procedure is being used then the contracting authority must specify in the tender itself the reason for the urgency of the procurement. The justification for accelerating a procedure is discussed in more detail within this blog post.

Stage 2

10 calendar days.
No further reductions apply.
The intention to use the accelerated procedure and the justification must have been specified within the first stage advert as mentioned above.

Competitive Dialogue

Stage 1 (pre-qualification stage)

30 calendar days.
No further reductions apply.

Subsequent Dialogue Stages

There are no explicit rules regarding the time limits for these stages.

1 reply »

  1. The main issue in practice is that procurement documents are rarely ‘issued’ in a satisfactory form i.e. without a number of corrections having to be provided subsequently, usually as a result of Clarification Questions received by the Contracting Authority. This raises the question of what timescale, in relation to the minimum prescribed by the Regulations, should be regarded as sufficient in such circumstances and at what point the clock should start ticking. There is a strong argument for the position that the procurement documents should be deemed not to hae been issued until an acceptble version i.e a basically consistent and complete version has been provided by the Contracting Authority. Such a position would carry with it an incentive for Authorities to do their job properly rather than issuing a load of rubbish and relying on the particpants to do their job for them via Clarification Questions.

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