Commissioning and Procurement

What is commissioning?
The Audit Commission defines commissioning as; "The process of specifying, securing and monitoring of services to meet people’s needs at a strategic level. This applies to all services, whether they are provided by the local authority, NHS, other public agencies or by the private and Third Sector.”

What is procurement?
Procurement is the buying aspect of service delivery. It is about implementing the commissioning requirements. It consists of:
purchasing — the process of securing or buying the services; and
contracting — the means by which the process is made legally binding. (LVSC)
 
Tendering
Tendering is part of the process of procurement, where an organisation wishes to buy goods or services to a specific standard and to secure best value for its investment. A tender is a formal request for bids or proposals from suppliers to provide a specified set of goods or services.

There are different types of tender process:
• Open – Anyone can take part
• Preferred / Approved / Restricted / Framework – Only certain people can take part
• Closed / Negotiated– Only selected organisations will be invited to take part. There must be reasons why a tender is closed or negotiated.
 
EOIs and PQQs
• Open tenders will often begin an advertisement in the press, website or bulk email
• Interested organisations will be invited to submit a tender
• The process may begin with an expressions of interest (EOI) and/or a pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ)
• This will be evaluated and successful organisations will be asked to submit a full tender.
 
Full tender (Preferred and closed tenders will usually start at this point, along with those successful at EOI/PQQ) A full tender will need to:
• Meet a range of detailed criteria and requirements
• Be produced within a specific timeframe
• Use a standard format or template
 
Tender assessment and interview decision
• A commissioning assessment panel will assess the applications against the criteria, using a scoring, rating and weighting system to ensure due and equal process
• Short listed organisations will go through a formal tendering interview process
• All organisations are usually informed on the final decision
• If unsuccessful, request detailed feedback on your application, and use this as part of an improvement plan. (NCB, successful commissioning course)

Asking for feedback
If unsuccessful in a tender it is important to request detailed feedback on your application. Since December 2009 new legislation states that the commissioner must give feedback at PQQ stage as well as full tender stage.
 
Links
See a simple slide show on how the commissioning process works
NAVCA and NCVO book on procurement law
Read more tips on writing a tender (Word doc)
See regulation on asking for feedback
Preparing for a tender: evidence checklist from NAVCA
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