A trawl through Contracts Finder shows that COVID-19 is, unsurprisingly, impacting public sector tendering activity. However, with tenders not yet dropping off a cliff, and only a 30% fall in published notices in the last month, there are still opportunities to secure new contracts and generate potentially critical income for your business. At the same time, you will be supporting the NHS, local authorities, and utility companies, and playing your part in meeting urgent requests for goods or services, which are desperately needed.
Procurement Policy Note – Responding to COVID-19
Most commentary on the recently issued Procurement Policy Note 01/20: Responding to COVID-19 has focussed on the headlines of direct awards, contract extensions, or modifying a contract during its term, and these will no doubt be utilised to good effect where extreme urgency is a factor. The advice to businesses that don’t have contracts in place is to liaise directly with the authority and ensure they understand your service offering, as they may be receptive to innovative proposals. However, it is clearly important that the current procurement process still be followed where practicable. For many procured services, there will be no extreme urgency, but there may still be valid reasons to expedite the process: for example, so that scaled-down local authority procurement teams can operate more efficiently and effectively, without delay.
One of the options available to authorities at the current time is to use accelerated timescales under Regulations 27(5), 28(10) and 29(10) of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 across England, Wales, and NI (Regulations 28(5), 29(11) and 30(11) for Scotland). These regulations can be applied to the open procedure, restricted procedure, and to the competitive procedure with negotiation. In practice, this means that for the open procedure, suppliers have a maximum of 15 calendar days to review tender documents, assess the requirement, and produce a tender response. For clarity, this could include a selection questionnaire (SQ) and full invitation to tender (ITT) response. Similarly, for a restricted procedure, a supplier may have 15 days to complete an SQ and only a further 10 days to turn around the ITT response.
Should you bid?
Many firms may simply decide to ignore the opportunities and dismiss them as something that they just don’t have time to complete, feeling unable to do so in a pressurised, time-bound situation. However, authorities who opt to use accelerated timescales as a result of their desperate need at this time will not do so lightly, as they are also placing themselves under pressure. Remember that an accelerated procedure does not mean a preferred supplier has been identified. Rather, it means that a due process will be followed and contracts for the urgent supply of essential goods and services need to be put in place. Quite simply: at this time, your help is needed.
You should therefore prepare for this by ensuring you are bid-ready and able to access all relevant company information. Consideration should be given to the structure of your resources, and how best to ensure you identify opportunities, qualify them, and produce a quality submission. Businesses who engage with professional bid writing consultancies such as Executive Compass could hold a competitive advantage by being better prepared, and find themselves in a strong position to submit compliant bids at short notice.
Bid writing support – contact us
Our team of professional bid writers is used to completing short-notice tenders and we can write extensive narrative response and draft large documents within a few days of initial conversations. Applying our established methodology which includes quality assurance checks and proofreading, you can be assured of a high-quality submission with no disruption to your business.