A lot of issues can arise, both for authorities and bidders, once a procurement is up and running. These may be predictable issues, such as dealing with queries and clarifications about the process and tender requirements; or less predictable, such as how to deal with a supplier’s insolvency or changes in consortium membership.
Issues arising during the conduct of the procurement process often involve thinking how best to manage any risks involved in a proposed course of action.
We can provide different levels of support according to your specific needs - from dealing with quick responses. to ad-hoc queries, to a full support service for the conduct of the entire process.
Working with clients
We can support contracting authorities in a wide range of ways, including:
- dealing with clarification requests
- when grounds for exclusion apply, how to respond to evidence of self-cleaning provided by a supplier
- raising or dealing with queries on how selection or evaluation criteria are evaluated and applied. This includes advising on the most appropriate approach to scoring and moderation.
- how to deal with bids that appear to be abnormally low tenders
- making or responding to requests for information under the procurement rules and Freedom of Information Act (FOI).
- how to ensure that your published tender documents avoid pitfalls that can expose them to allegations of breaches of transparency or equal treatment
- what to do when faced with a non-compliant or caveated bid
- how to deal with potential conflicts of interest
- how to document an evaluation process to ensure a robust audit trail.
End-to-end support in a proton beam therapy procurement
We advised an NHS Trust pre-procurement on the complex commercial arrangments involved in designing a competition to find a private sector partner to deliver this unit. Our experience enabled the client to find a way of evaluating the financing and risk sharing arrangements, ensuring a safe and seamless service. Our end-to-end support across the whole procurement ensured a robust approach and successful conclusion to the procurement.
Overview and checking of procurement process
We advised a council on the procurement of a £35m contract for independent living services, which had been previously subject to a number of legal challenges. We worked closely with the authority throughout to review documentation for publication, to manage clarification responses and to assist with issues which arose around non-compliant tenders. As a result of our involvement, the council was able to enter into the contract without any further challenge and focus on the delivery of services.
Information requests and conflicts of interests
We advised a CCG in relation to a contentious outsourcing of urgent care, '111' and out of hours contracts, as requests came in continually for information relating to TUPE, conflicts of interest, clarifications and further management data. We provided advice on how to comply with the transparency obligations under FOIA, the Health and Social Care Act 2012 obligations and associated guidance, under the NHS (Procurement, Patient Choice and Competition )(No. 2) Regulations 2013.