One of the roles of Purchasing is to ensure that all College procurement is conducted in an open and fair manner and that all of our procedures and processes adhere to the relevant legal requirements
This guide aims to help potential suppliers understand how we do business and what procedures we are obliged to adhere to when procuring goods and services.
What does the College buy?
There are three main areas of purchasing:
- Services (Including Consultancy)
- Property Maintenance & Construction
How does the College produce purchase orders?
The College generates purchase orders primarily through two distinct modes of operation; An official RHUL Purchase Order, where suppliers will be given an order number to accompany an order and this number must be used in all correspondence connected to that purchase, ie, delivery notes, invoices etc. Do not accept an order without being given a purchase order number, without it invoice processing will be delayed. Secondly, there is the college purchasing card, which is a visa card payment. The College is in the process of procuring a P2P electronic purchasing system for its various Schools and Departments, and until implemented and fully operational purchase orders will continue to be generated manually.
Are there prescribed procedures that College must follow when approaching the market?
Yes. In line with UK and European Union Public Procurement Regulations & HEFCE code of practice most Universities have to establish a set of purchasing, tendering and contracting regulations and procedures, which apply to all its contracts. Royal Holloway, University of London’s regulations are published in its Financial Regulations.
The procedures that we follow are dependent on the indicative value of the contract. The threshold values and associated procedures are detailed below.
- For orders up to £5,000 best prices are to be used after comparing various suppliers.
- For orders between £5,000 and £20,000 Three comparable quotations are to be obtained. This can be by fax, catalogue, phone or on-line. A copy of these comparable quotes must be kept on file.
- Between £20,000 and £50,000 Three written quotations must be obtained and the quotations must be kept on file. If the least expensive quote is not chosen, a short written justification for why the particular supplier was chosen must also be kept on file.
- For orders or contracts with an indicative cost of over £50,000 sealed tenders are required.
Three sealed tenders for orders or contracts up to a value of £75,000 and five sealed tenders for a value over £75,000 and up to the EU threshold of £156,442 for goods and services.
- If the indicative cost of a contract for goods or services is likely to exceed £156,442 then a formal tendering procedure will be carried out in accordance with European Union Public Procurement Legislation. The contract will be advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) as well as the College e-tendering web site and if appropriate, relevant trade journals. The indicative cost is calculated on the total spend over the life of the contract, e.g. a service bought in on a four-year contract at £40,000 a year has a total value of £160,000.
- If the indicative total cost for a works contract is likely to exceed £3,927,260 then a formal tendering procedure will be carried out in line with European Union Public Procurement Legislation. The contract will be advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) as well as e-tendering web site and, if appropriate, relevant trade journals.
Where can information be found regarding forthcoming College contracts?
As stated previously, The College is obliged to post notices in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) for all contracts where the indicative costs may exceed the thresholds prescribed by the European Procurement Directives. For contracts that are below these thresholds, these may be advertised in a variety of ways, e.g. through trade journals, trade organisations, the RHUL web page, or companies may be approached directly. In order to express an interest in any College contracts, follow the instructions provided with the notification /advertisement. This will involve using the College's In-tend e-tendering system
What happens after an expression of interest?
The College will consider and respond to all expressions of interest in contracts that are new or are being renewed. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to respond to speculative enquiries from cold-calling, prospective suppliers.
The procedures employed for the tendering of contracts will be dependent on the commodities or services that are required and their indicative costs. For contracts where there is likely to be a large potential supplier base, there would be a pre-qualification phase, and from this, a number of competent suppliers would be invited to submit a tender. If the supplier base is limited then it is likely that all prospective suppliers who express interest will be invited to tender for the contract. Under the European Public Procurement Directives, these procedures are known as Restricted and Open respectively.
The College will treat all prospective suppliers equally and, via its e-tendering system will ensure that all companies involved in tendering for College contracts are in possession of the same documentation and any other information to ensure a level playing field. The College's e-tendering system will allow prospective suppliers to submit their tenders electronically.
What happens to the submitted tenders?
All tenders and supporting documentation submitted are held in the College's e-tendering system.
against the contract to which they relate. The system records the receipt of the tenders and does not allow them to be viewed before the allocated time. Only nominated members of College staff are able to view the tender responses at the opening ceremony.
After the tender opening, all responses are collated and forwarded to those who wrote the contract specification for evaluation. Tenders are evaluated against the requirements of the contract specification and prospective suppliers are scored according to which tender represents the best value to the College: the highest scoring tender would then be put forward for contract award.
How is a contract awarded?
Following evaluation, all prospective suppliers who submitted a tender, will be informed of the outcome of the evaluation, and the supplier who has submitted the highest scoring (winning) tender will be given a letter of intent. Depending on the nature of the project, the formalisation of the contract will either happen fairly quickly, or will have to be delayed by a minimum of ten days to satisfy the requirements of the mandatory “Alcatel” standstill period imposed on public sector bodies by the European Union. Unsuccessful suppliers will be entitled to informal debriefs after the announcement of the outcome of the evaluation.