Common Terms

“A CALL”. When a notice announcing a competition is advertised publically.

“AGGREGATION” Applies to tranches of services, works, and supplies procurements. Where these lots or frameworks are grouped together into larger single contracts, lots, procurements or frameworks.

“CPV CODES” CPV (ref. legal definitions) codes have been developed by the European Union specifically for public procurement. Their main purpose is to help procurement personnel to classify their contract notices consistently and correctly. It is also to help suppliers find the notices which are of interest to them, by using a standardised vocabulary.

The CPV codes consist of a main vocabulary for defining the subject of a contract, and a supplementary vocabulary for adding further qualitative information. The main vocabulary is based on a tree structure. This comprises up to 9 digits (an 8 digit code plus a check digit) associated with a wording. These describe the type of supplies, works or services forming the subject of the contract.

Suppliers are unlikely to be able to find a notice if a contracting authority inserts the incorrect CPV. For example if, in their search criteria, this was based on the type of service they offer.

“CONTRACT AWARD NOTICES” (CAN) A notice for services, works or supplies procurements that is issued publically, announcing the results of the tender procedure with the names of those who have successfully won awards. These notices are issued in the form and manner specified under the regulations after the required standstill period.

“e-CERTIS” a digital information system providing a reference tool that helps clients identify the different certificates and attestations frequently requested in procurement procedure to facilitate cross border trading. All language versions of the European Single Procurement Document (ESPD) will become available on e-Certis.

“DESIGN QUALITY” There is no set definition for what constitutes good, quality design. However, for a discussion of the topic please see RIBA’s ‘Good Design – it all adds up

“EU” Means the European Union.

“EU PROCEDURES” or “EU PROCESS” means a procurement process which requires that a notice is advertised in the TED supplement to OJEU, in accordance with procedures required under Directive 2014/24/EU and the Public Contract Regulations 2015.

“EU THRESHOLDS” The EU thresholds in public procurement regulations apply to higher value works and vary depending on the type of contracting authority, whether it’s a procurement for works, services or supplies and the procurements estimated value. When procurements have a value not less than the relevant amounts and are not excluded by the regulations scope the procurement must comply with the more onerous requirements of the regulations and be advertised on both contracts finder and the European portal. The threshold amounts are specified in  Directive2014/24/EU Art.4 and in The Public Contract Regulations 2015, Regulation 5. The EU threshold values and general principles of procurement are established foremost under the World Trade Organisations General Procurement Agreement, which is designed to open market access globally.  (also refer to “Light Thresholds” & “Thresholds” below)

“EU TREATY PRINCIPLES” These fundamental principles will apply to all contracts that a public body enters into, regardless of whether the full EU procurement rules apply. The EU Treaty principles include the following:

  • Free movement and non-discrimination: a duty not to discriminate between individuals or businesses because of the EU Member State from which they come, and not to inhibit the free movement of workers, goods and businesses within the EU. This includes accepting products and services from businesses in other Member States if they meet the contracting authority’s legitimate requirements for the contract.
  • Fairness: a duty to ensure that commissioning and procurement processes are fair, and do not unintentionally exclude potential suppliers.
  • Transparency: a duty to ensure that commissioning, procurement and contracting processes are transparent and open. This means that any bidder for a contract should be able to see and understand the process that the contracting authority is following. For example, when a contracting authority invites tenders from interested bidders, it must make clear what it is evaluating. It must also make clear how it will evaluate and score bidders’ responses.
  • Proportionality: a duty not to include contract requirements and terms that are disproportionate to the size or value of the contract. The EU Directive, Article 44 states… ‘levels of ability required for a specific contract must be related and proportionate to the subject matter of the contract.’

For example, a contracting authority should not require technical capability, professional status or economic strength that is far beyond that needed to deliver a contract. The public body must accept technical specifications and qualifications if they are equivalent to the national specifications and qualifications the public body has specified.

The principles of the Treaties governing the European Union underpin all procurement law and contracting authorities should always consider the principles throughout their procurements.

“EXPRESSION OF INTEREST (EOI)” An expression of interest refers to any bidders submission in response to a call for competition. Such calls maybe for open or restricted procedures, in single or multiple stages or design contests where the response is assessed anonymously. Prequalification questionnaires (PQQs) are distinct question sets issued by contracting authorities in accordance with Part 2 of the regulations. Question sets

A bidder submitting an expression of interest might be required to do so by completing a PQQ, although particularly in the design contest procedures this may not apply.

“FRAMEWORK” (ref also legal definition of a ‘framework agreement’) Means an agreement between one or more contracting authorities and one or more economic operators. The purpose of which is to establish the terms governing contracts to be awarded over a given period (typically 4 years).

“LIGHT THRESHOLDS” or “LOW VALUE THRESHOLDS”. These are specific to the UK Public Contract Regulations 2015 (Part 4). They apply to low value procurements where the value of the contract is below the relevant EU thresholds. The low-value rules apply to central government procurements with a contract value above £10,000, and for other authorities above £25,000. A light regime regulates transparency and precludes use of PQQs.

“LOTS” Contracts let within a single procurement. Used when a procurement notice provides for divisions within a single procurement allowing for the award of discrete individual contracts.

The distinction between the different lots within a single procurement may vary according to what type or mix of services, works or supply is sought and typically on the basis of value, scale, typology, location context and the numbers of operatives that might be required to undertake the outputs.

Lots maybe used with any of the standard procedures and design contests. But the largest numbers of lots are found most frequently separately defined  in framework contracts for eg architectural services, engineering, MEP, project management, construction services. These maybe sub-divided according to the award values, typology, level of risk sought, geographic regions and whether for new or refurbishment. Generally to achieve best value and quality it is considered that design services and construction works should be seperately tendered.

“NUTS CODES” (The Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics). A geographical code provided within notices to define the location of a procurement with the EU; and providing valuable national, regional and sub-regional economic data.

If a contracting authority inserts the incorrect NUTS code in a notice, suppliers are unlikely to be able to find it directly using search criteria which defines their geographic area of activity. Local Administrative Units(LAUs) allow a greater degree of local classification than the NUTS geographic codes. The coding LAU system is compatible with NUTS.

Contracting authorities preparing a procurement notice should insert NUTS codes with LAU codes consistently in all notices relating to a single procurement. This should be according to the location of the procurement contract (and, where applicable, where the procurement might be prepared and/or issued from). NUTS codes shown on geographical maps are also available.

“OJEU” or “OFFICIAL JOURNAL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION” A multi-language daily publication (Tues-Sat).  The Official Journal of the European Union (OJ) is the official compendium of EU legislation (L series) and other official documents of the EU institutions, bodies and agencies (C series and its supplements). Procurements are published electronically within a supplement called TED (tenders electronic daily).

Colloquially OJEU used within UK procurement has come to refer to any required procedure above thresholds (an ‘OJEU Procedure’) or the publication of a procedure on TED (‘OJEU Notice’).

“PCR 2015”, “PCRs 2015” refer to The Public Contract Regulations 2015, (for England, Wales and N. Ireland) and The Public Contract Regulations (Scotland) 2015.

“PIN” or “PRIOR INFORMATION NOTICE”.  PINs typically allow clients to forewarn the market of their procurement intentions within the next 12 months to allow bidders to prepare to bid before the procurement process officially begins. Under the Public Contract Regulations 2015 regulation 48 they may also be used as a call for competition for restricted procedures, and competitive procedures by negotiation making it possible to accelerate clients’ selection processes by 30 days or more.

For works contracts, a PIN must be issued as soon as possible after the planned work(s) is approved.

Contracting authorities and their suppliers should be alert to competitions being called for within Prior Information Notices (PIN) for restricted procedures, and competitive procedures by negotiation.  Given the timescales clients should endeavour by pre market engagement to forewarn suppliers, to ensure they attract the most competitive bids.

“PQQ”, “PRE QUALIFICATION QUESTIONNAIRE” or “STANDARD SELECTION QUESTIONNAIRE” (may also be known as a Supplier Questionnaire). Usually issued to bidders wishing to respond to a call for a restricted competition for works, supplies or services, or to join a ‘Framework’. PQQs are used under The Public Contract Regulations Part 2 Chapter 2 in procedures for the submission of pre tendering information submitted in response and prior to a tender.

One standardised PQQ template question set for use in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that maybe asked in whole or parts by buyers of their suppliers has been developed by Government. This standard Selection Questionnaire has been drafted so it aligns with questions in the European Single Procurement Document (ESPD), incorporating the first 2 sections of the ESPD.  The ESPD includes supplier selection questions which are not mandatory, and a policy has been adopted in the UK to substitute these optional questions with those in this standard Selection Questionnaire.

“PAS91 PQQs” are designed specifically for the construction industry and should be used in works contracts above the thresholds. The BSI are updating the 2013 version of PAS91, which still refers to the 2006 Public Contrcat Regulations, so until the new version is published the advice provided is that contracting authorities should use Parts 1 and 2 of the Standard Selection Questionnaire and supplier selection questions from PAS91

“RESTRICTED PROCEDURES”.  Means those procedures in which any economic operator may request to participate. Only those invited forward by the contracting authority on the basis of compliance and assessment of a PQQ response may submit a tender. Or in the case of Design Contest this may be by other restrictions.

“THINNING”.  Techniques used in the drafting of questionnaires, technical specifications and for selection procedures. For the purpose of reducing the numbers of tenders shortlisted for the tender and contract award. Procurements should be constructed on real contextual qualitative criteria relating to the outputs sought taking full regard of Regulation 42 (10) . This states that all such technical specifications “shall afford equal access of economic operators to the procurement procedure and shall not have the effect of creating unjustified obstacles to the opening up of public procurement to competition”.

“TIER 2 SUPPLIER” The tier 1 supplier is the main contractor.  Tier 2 suppliers are sub-contractors while tier 3 suppliers are sub-contracted to tier 2s. For example, in Design and Build Contracts, an architect is employed by the main contractor. They are therefore a ‘tier 2 contractor’ relative to the client.

“THRESHOLDS” or “THRESHOLD VALUES”.  Mean the financial values  above or below which different regulations apply, as specified in the Public Contract Directives and EU Directives. The EU thresholds for works, services and supplies vary and also vary according to whether they are for central or sub-central authorities.  Different defence and utilities provisions apply and should therefore be checked.

Under the UK Public Contract Regulations there are two principle threshold levels. The EU thresholds for higher values where Part 2 of the UK Regulations apply and the light thresholds are for procurements of low value where Part 4 of the Public Contract Regulations apply.

The threshold values within the EU Procurement Directives are reviewed bi-annually.  They may therefore be amended from time to time and this will be affected by  currency fluctuations. Summary UK threshold values in £ sterling are updated in Procurement Policy Notes (PPN’s).