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.

5 thoughts on “Timescales under the 2015 Public Contracts Regulations – updated

  1. Andrew says:

    I took a snap survey by looking at the day and times of 5 random contract notices, and the number of days were 28, 28, 50, 34, 31. If I were running a procurement – as proposed above – I would count the mandated days starting from the day after the publication, especially if I were going to deadline it at a time before the end of the day. As is indicated by the notices I looked at, a couple didn’t even have the mandated period, but at least one authority allowed more time than required. Willing to bet they receive the highest quality responses!

  2. Peter Bird says:

    Tenders often end at a set time within working hours, eg 13:00 or 12:00 noon. To ensure that a full period is allowed one supposes this should be on the day following the required period, eg if 30 days are required the notice is published on day zero, day one is the following day and tenders are to be returned at,say,13:00 on day 31. Any thoughts.

    1. Digby Barker says:

      A counter argument might be that the 1st day of the timescale is the day after the Proc Docs are issued. However I do think CAs do themselves no favours in terms of getting effective competition by treating the minimum timescales as the norm. My real bugbear is the practice of issuing Award decision Notices on Fridays thus ensuring there are 2 weekends in the – minimum but now usual – 10 day Standstill period !

      1. Peter Bird says:

        Thanks for your feedback. I agree, the notice period starts the first full day after the notice is submitted (not ‘published’ as I had previously said, the client can’t be held responsible for delays in the publication of the contract on Contract Finder). The procurement documents should be published at the same time as the notice is submitted, I believe there has been case law supporting the need for full documentation, not just some documents to pay lip service to the requirement.

        Of course, the client is required to allow ‘adequate time’ for responses given the nature of the contract (although ‘adequate’ is up for debate). I also agree that the timing of issuing documents, not just the standstill letters, can reduce the time available for responses. Worst case would be around the Christmas/New Year period where there are several public holidays and staff usually thin on the ground. Perhaps the legislation should be re-stated to talk in terms of working days.

  3. dnhb says:

    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.

Leave a Reply