How do I become an authorised supplier to the public sector?

How do I become an authorised supplier to the public sector?

With our experience over the years of working with public sector as procurement specialists and working with businesses as commercial suppliers, the big question we often get asked is “How can you become an authorised supplier?”

Here is some back to basics information so you have a firm foundation of how the public sector chooses who it will work with and how it posts its projects.

The first thing to note is that there are a number of ways organisations can become a supplier to government but none of them are particularly fast or simple.

Public Contracts Regulations outline ‘the lawful process any public body must follow to fairly and openly procure services or goods from the commercial sector’. As burdensome as this sounds, this is to protect against ‘special relationships’ and over dominance of certain providers. It doesn’t always achieve this but the intention is there. These regulations largely apply to contracts over £122k in aggregate – meaning that larger ones can’t be sliced into smaller subcontracts.

All requirements over this threshold must be advertised publicly. However, the onus to find them is on the supplier. This used to be done through OJEU (Official Journal of the European Union) but after 01/01/21, this will done in the UK by ‘Find a Tender’.

There are also other online outlets that aggregate these and push them out free or for a subscription depending on the level of tailoring. These include websites such as Tenders Electronic Daily (TED), Tenders Direct, Sell2Wales and many more. In addition to this, each public authority can simply put information on its own website – it still meets the requirements of the Regulations.

Augmentas always recommends to clients that if they are looking for larger contracts (£million upwards), to subscribe to a service. If they are looking for smaller, more local contracts, they should register with local authorities, Health Trusts and visit their websites.

Where contracts fall below these thresholds, tenders must still be held to demonstrate value for money. Normally, Direct Awards can be placed if under £10k, as the cost of a greater exercise outweighs the benefits.

To become a supplier, you need to find an opportunity that has been advertised and follow the process that is outlined. This can take anywhere between three months to over a year, depending on the scale and complexity of the project.

Government, like the private sector, has a ‘preferred supplier list’ (PSL), but it calls them Frameworks or Dynamic Purchasing Systems (DPS). Opportunities are advertised and established in the same way as described above but by using these frameworks or DPSs, if you manage to get on them, effectively cuts down long, complex procurements by establishing a ‘qualified’ shortlist.

Frameworks

Frameworks such as Tech Services, Tech 2 and many more are all available to any bidder when issued, subject to the bidder meeting the requirements of supply.

• They last for up to 4-years.

• After the initial procurement has been undertaken to establish the Framework, which runs the same course as described above, Further Competitions (mini-competitions) will be held for each opportunity.

• These Further Competitions are not limited in size and can take as little as 2-weeks to tender and know the outcome.

• Frameworks can still comprise >100 suppliers, but also as few as 2 or 3.

Dynamic Purchasing Systems (DPS)

Dynamic Purchasing Systems, such as GCloud and DOS, are renewed much more frequently, often annually, and some of them are even open to join all the time (NHS has numerous), if you meet the requirements. Again, these initially follow the same process as described above for standard procurements and frameworks when being established, but it is easier once on them.

• The same process applies, certainly for those running annually, where a proposal needs to be created and submitted, but these frameworks tend to have many hundreds or even thousands of suppliers on them. (GCloud had more than 4,000 on this year.)

• Once on the DPS, picking up work will come down to constantly scanning the sites or emailing requests for the right opportunities and bidding accordingly.

• Alternatively, some gentle marketing is a good idea so that the procurement specialist or specifier is aware of your product/ service or brand.

We are extremely proud of our 100% success rates for qualification stage and success at tender stage (88%) for corporate clients looking to win more public sector work. If you want more information and advice on winning more work from the public sector or have any questions about becoming a preferred supplier, contact us on +44 (0)203 918 8550 or email info@augmentasgroup.com