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Glossary of Bid and Procurement Terminology


Accelerated, Restricted or Negotiated Procedure:
For high-value public sector contracts. The length of time of the tender or procurement response process may be shortened to accommodate special circumstances and / or emergencies.

Added Value Services:
Often referring to additional services ‘over and above’ the basic contract specification.

Added Value:
Features and benefits that you offer which exceed the specification for the contract.

Alcatel Mandatory Standstill Period:
Minimum 10-day period following a decision to award a contract tendered via OJEU. Its aim is to allow unsuccessful bidders the opportunity to challenge the decision before the contract is signed. Also referred to as just a Standstill Period.

Alternative Bid:
A solution offered as an alternative to the tender specification. Normally an innovative approach with benefits over and above the stated requirement in terms of cost and/or performance. Also known as variant bid.

Any Qualified Provider (AQP):
Method of commissioning certain NHS services. Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) will determine the services to be commissioned as AQP; the intention is to increase patient choice.

A detailed assessment of the general capacity of a contractor, supplier or service provider to meet certain pre-determined criteria or standards.

Approved List / Approved Supplier List:
A list of approved suppliers, contractors or service providers who have been pre-selected (usually through a tendering process) and from whom goods and services must be procured. See also Preferred Supplier List.

The issue of an order or contract to a supplier as a result of a competitive tendering or bidding process.

Award Criteria:
The criteria by which a contract is to be awarded.


Best and Final Offer (BAFO):
The detailed and fully priced offer submitted by a respondent for a contract, which represents their lowest price.

A formal proposal to supply goods or services at a specified price, usually describing how the contract requirements will be met.

Bid Library:
A database of model answers, case studies, policies and procedures for the purpose of tendering. The library should be maintained and updated regularly and in response to evaluator feedback. A good bid library both saves time and improves the quality of a company’s submissions.

Bid Management:
The process of managing a tender submission for a contract and managing the bid team.

Business Continuity Plan (BCP):
A strategy that recognises threats and risks facing a business with plans in place to protect personnel and assets to continue function in the event of a disaster. See also Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP).


Central Buying Consortium (CBC):
The Central Buying Consortium is the largest local authority purchasing consortium in the UK. It represents most of the major authorities from the Midlands to the south-east, outside London.

Common Procurement Vocabulary (CPV):
Codes used throughout the European Union to generically describe products or services. The use of CPV codes by public sector purchasers to define their requirements in a Contract Notice is mandatory. CPV’s can also be used in Non-OJEU Contract Notices to classify expenditure.

Confidentiality Agreement (CA):
A legal contract between at least two parties that outlines confidential material, knowledge, or information that the parties wish to share with one another for certain purposes, but wish to restrict access to or by third parties. See also Non-disclosure Agreement (NDA).

A person who is formally consulted with as part of the evaluation process. Consultees are individuals with specific expertise relating to the contract being procured.

A binding agreement made between two or more parties, which is enforceable at law.

Contract Addendum:
Notification showing changes, amendments or cancellation of a published Competitive Contract Notice (see below).

Contracts Finder:
Contracts Finder lets you search for information about contracts worth over £10,000 with the government and its agencies.

Contract Notice:
OJEU public sector contract opportunity advertised via Tenders Electronic Daily OJEU Contracts Finder.

Contract Notice Award:
Published details of the company(s) awarded a public sector contract subject to Competitive Contract Notice (see above).

Contract Value:
The total monetary value of a contract, over its full duration (not annual value).


Defence Electronic Commerce Service (DECS):
Ministry of Defence and Capgemini committed to a ten-year Public Private Partnership for the provision of e-commerce and e-business services. These are made available to the Defence community via DECS.

Direct Electronic Links for Tender Administration (DELTA):
Internet based electronic tendering process; Delta eSourcing is an end-to-end, EU compliant, full eSourcing web-based service which allows buying organisations to manage tenders, suppliers and contracts in a single solution. It is used by the majority of the public sector.

Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP):
Disaster recovery involves a set of policies, tools and procedures to enable the recovery or continuation of infrastructure and systems following a disaster. See also Business Continuity Plan (BCP).

Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS):
Similar to an electronic Framework Agreement but new suppliers can join at any time. Initially, all qualifying suppliers must be admitted to the DPS – there are no limits on the number of suppliers. Unlike Framework Agreements, suppliers can also apply to join the DPS at any point during its lifetime. Individual contracts are awarded at the second stage when DPS suppliers bid for contracts.


Economic Operator:
The service provider i.e. the bidder.

The term used to describe the use of electronic methods of the purchasing process. It can include e-Sourcing, e-Procurement and e-Payment (including e-Invoicing).

Electronic Tendering / E-Tenders:
Electronic tenders are becoming the norm in public sector procurement; the whole tendering process is conducted electronically. Various systems and processes are used and it is often entirely paperless.

European Union Regulations (EU Regs):
There are rules and regulations set by the European Union with regard to procurement for public sector organisations – these rules and regulations are set to protect suppliers and must always be followed by all public sector organisations.

Expression of Interest (EOI):
An EOI is an invitation that may in turn lead to a tender process or directly to a negotiation with one or several preferred suppliers. An EOI is often issued in the early stages of the procurement process and may be released if the buyer is just looking, or is seeking industry input into scoping requirements that will then go back out to market later on.

Detailed assessment and comparison of contractor, supplier or service provider offers, against financial and quality criteria.

Evaluation Criteria:
Tender evaluation criteria is the method by which a tender response is marked. Related to award criteria.


Firm Price:
A price which is not subject to variation.

Framework Agreement:
An agreement between one or more businesses or organisations, the purpose of which is to establish the terms governing contracts to be awarded during a given period. In other words, a framework is a general term for a contract with a group of suppliers. It sets out terms and conditions for specific purchases (call-offs) that can be made during the period of the contract.

A Framework Agreement is often in place for 3-4 years, with calls on the suppliers to deliver as and when required. There is never a guarantee of work even if you are part of a framework agreement.

Freedom of Information Act (FOI):
The act creates a general right of access, on request, to information held by public authorities.

Full Cost Recovery:
Covering all the costs of providing a service, including a suitable proportion of overhead costs. Grant Money provided by a public sector organisation to support a particular activity. Grants do not cover the entire cost of the activity. There will usually be conditions attached to the grant but it is important to understand a grant is not a contract.


Invitation to Provide a Proposal (IPP):
This can be similar or the same as an Invitation to Tender (ITT) or a less formal process.

Invitation to Tender (ITT):
The paper or electronic documentation issued to organisations invited to tender for a contract. Typically it includes a background, rules of tender, contract specification, questions or information required and a draft contact.


Joint Venture (JV):
A formal or informal partnership created to achieve a specific aim – typically to win a tender or Public Private Partnership


Tender categories of products, works or services are commonly known as Lots. They define the area of work within a tender where a single tender has been divided into a number of groups of goods or services. It allows for multiple providers to bid on the lots.

Letter of Intent:
A letter informing a successful tenderer that it is the buying organisations intention to enter into a contract with them in the future but creates no liability in regard to that future contract.


Method Statement:
Frequently requested as part of a tender and are intended to give the company an opportunity to show how they can provide the goods or service and give the buying organisation an insight into the company’s method of operation.

The period of time, and the activities undertaken, to assemble and organise the requirements of the project. It usually starts after the contract has been awarded and is usually completed prior to the date that the contract commences. It may also involve working with the existing / previous provider to ensure smooth transition and no disruption t business as usual following the introduction of any new service provider.

Most Economically Advantageous Tender (MEAT):
The optimum combination of whole life costs and benefits assessed against pre-determined evaluation award criteria which will normally be detailed in the Invitation to Tender (ITT) or equivalent documentation.


National Supplier Vocabulary Codes (NSV):
CPV numbers developed by the European Union for public procurement. Their main purpose is to provide standardised terms to help procurement classify contract notices. They also help suppliers find those of interest to them.

Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA):
A NDA, also known as a confidentiality agreement is a legal contract between at least two parties that outlines confidential materials or knowledge the parties wish to share with one another for certain purposes, but wish to restrict access to. It is a contract through which the parties agree not to disclose information covered by the agreement.

Non-Collusive Tendering:
Tender submissions must be submitted in good faith knowing that no other person, who has a vested interest in the tendered service, has helped the tenderer to compile their offer.

Negotiated Procedure:
For high-value public sector contracts. Only chosen suppliers are invited to negotiate for a contract(s). This has limited use only e.g. extreme urgency, failure of open/restricted procedures or repeat of similar contract.

Nomenclature of Statistical Territorial Units (NUTS):
A hierarchical classification of administrative areas, used across the European Union for statistical purposes. e.g. Northern Ireland is one of 12 “NUTS 1” areas in the UK.


Official Journal of the European Union [formerly OJEC] OJEU:
The publication in which all high-value public sector contracts in the EU must be advertised.

Open Procedure:
For high-value public sector contracts suppliers can apply without prior selection i.e. going through a Supplier Selection Questionnaire (SSQ) also known as a Standard Selection Questionnaire (SSQ). The EU Directives lay down the type of criteria which can be used to eliminate unqualified or unsuitable supplier.


Websites used by authorities for Electronic Tendering.

Prior Information Notice (PIN):
An advance warning of a public sector contract to be tendered at some time in the future. The issue of a PIN does not guarantee that a contract will be advertised.

Preferred Supplier Agreement (PSA):
An arrangement between an organisation and supplier in which, in return for discounts or other advantages, the organisation requires its employees to source goods and services directly from that supplier only.

Preferred Supplier List (PSL):
A list of suppliers maintained by an organisation from whom they will procure goods and services and which excludes all suppliers that are not on that list. Placing on the list will normally be as a result of completing a tender process. See also Approved Supplier List.

The process of acquiring goods, works or services from third parties. The process spans the whole life cycle from identification of needs, through to the end of the contract and any additional warranty period.


Quality Criteria:
Is a defined list of requirements that tenderers must answer to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the service requirements.

A less formal written offer to supply goods or services, with the supplier offering the price. This is often used when considering lower value public sector procurement.


Request for Tender (RFT):
Same as an Invitation to Tender. A formal, structured invitation to suppliers to submit a bid to supply products or services.

Request for Information (RFI):
An RFI is primarily used to gather information to help make a decision on what steps to take next. RFIs are therefore seldom the final stage and are instead often used in combination with the following: Request for Proposal (RFP), Request for Tender (RFT), and Request for Quotation (RFQ). In addition to gathering basic information, an RFI is often used as a solicitation sent to a broad base of potential suppliers for the purpose of conditioning suppliers’ minds, developing strategy, building a database, and preparing for an RFP, RFT, or RFQ.

Request for Proposal (RFP):
A formal request for a proposal – can range from a simple proposal to a complex tender.

Request for Quotation (RFQ):
A type of procurement in which a company asks applicants to submit a quote for the completion of a specific task or project. A RFQ, similar to a request for proposal (RFP), provides comprehensive information to the bidder concerning the project’s requirements. An RFQ frequently requires the bidder to itemise costs for each phase of the project allowing the buying authority to compare several bids for like services.

Restricted Procedure:
For high-value public sector contracts Suppliers are selected by an open first-round invitation e.g. a SQ (see Selection Questionnaire). Any prospective supplier can apply to be included in the restricted list for the contract. Those suppliers who then meet the required criteria or “qualify” will then be invited to tender.


Selection Criteria:
The factors that a public sector organisation will take into account when deciding which tender to accept. Usually some factors will count for more than others.

Selection Questionnaire (SQ):
A two-stage process cannot be used for below threshold procurements. But the standard Selection Questionnaire can be used a starting point to develop supplier selection questions in the tender documents for lower value procurements.

Service Level Agreement (SLA):
Often used between two public sector organisations, or between two different departments of the same public sector organisation. A contract between a supplier and its customers (internal or external) that documents what services the supplier will furnish and defines the service standards the provider is obligated to meet.

A description of the essential technical requirements for goods or services to be delivered under a contract, including the method for checking that the requirements have been met. At the tender stage its purpose is to present prospective providers with a clear, accurate and full description of the buyer’s needs, to enable them to propose a solution to meet them.

Once the contract has been awarded, the specification is usually included in the signed contract to confirm the requirements and standards to which the goods, works or services should conform.

A list of suitable prospective suppliers that has been drawn up through a preliminary evaluation exercise for a particular contract or procurement activity.

Standstill Period:
Once the buyer has announced who it intends to award the contract to, a “standstill period” will follow. This is when suppliers can ask for feedback on the award decision and also challenge the decision if they wish to. See also Alcatel Mandatory Standstill period.

The process where a contractor assigns part of the contract to another contractor(s).


Terms & Conditions (T&Cs):
Terms and conditions under which a contract is offered and which must be complied with during the life of the contract.

The documents provided by the buyer to prospective tenderers when they are invited to tender and which form the basis on which tenders are submitted.

Tender Submissions:
An official written offer in response to an invitation to tender that contains a cost proposal to perform the works or services or provide the goods required and is provided in response to a tendering exercise. This normally involves the submission of the offer using an e-tendering portal or in a sealed envelope to a specified address by a specified time and date; also called ‘bid’ or ‘bid submissions’ or ‘offer’.

Tender / Tendering:
A formalised process of bidding for work or contracts. See ITT.

The organisation submitting a tender; also called ‘bidder’.

Tenders Electronic Daily (TED):
The official website for EC tender information and publishes the Official Journal of the European Union (see OJEU).

Tier 1 Supplier:
An organisation at the top of the supply chain providing goods or service directly to the end client – also known as the Main Contractor.

Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) TUPE:
These regulations are designed to protect the rights of employees in a transfer situation e.g. when there is a change in supplier (often when contracts are tendered) or when a facility is first outsourced. This enables affected employees to enjoy continuity of employment keeping the same terms and conditions. TUPE 2006 entirely replaces the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 (SI 1981/1794) which have often been referred to as the TUPE regulations.


Value for Money:
The provision of the right goods and services from the right source, of the right quality, at the right time, delivered to the right place and at the right price (judged on whole life costs and not simply initial costs).

Variant Tender:
When an alternative tender is submitted alongside a standard tender. For example the variants could be based on the specification and must be submitted on a separate sheet and clearly marked as a variant tender.