PLEASE NOTE: As of January 1st 2021, the United Kingdom now uses the Find a Tender Service for their public sector procurement process. The below is a reference for what the European Union still will be using, TED and OJEU. UK Public Sector Procurement no longer follows the OJEU process.
Whilst we were doing some digging around on the worldwide web we realised that there aren’t many articles stating the who’s what’s and why’s of public sector procurement. Especially when you throw tricky EU legislation into the mix! So never ones to let our public down, we thought it best if we wrote a piece answering a few of the basic questions: What is OJEU?
What is OJEU?
Well, literally: Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) is the online journal that is home to all public sector contracts that are worth above a certain value.
Now you might be wondering…
What is a tender?
A tender describes all contract opportunities published by private and public sector organisations. They may be for goods, services, works or utilities. Tendering is the process of procuring these services, and suppliers can bid for business opportunities.
Whilst OJEU thresholds may make things more complicated, it ultimately leads to greater transparency and equality on an EU level. If a public authority contract is above a certain contract value (above the threshold), EC Procurement Regulations require that the contract has to be awarded using an EU/OJEU compliant route to market. This can include publishing the opportunity via OJEU. This means the playing field is open to companies in the UK but also across the EU. By doing this the EU wants to ensure the free movement of supplies, services and works.
The OJEU limits for the UK as of January 2020 are:
- £122,976 for Central Government
- £378,660 for Defence and Security
- £189,330 for other contracting authorities
- £70,778 for small Lots
Updates are usually every 2 years. The last update was January 2020.
Any contracts “Below OJEU” (yes another procurement term) doesn’t fall under EU regulations. However, any procurement, regardless of the value needs to be fair, transparent and have sufficient advertising to enable competition amongst suppliers.
Where to find OJEU opportunities?
Around 2500 new OJEU notices are advertised each week. Suppliers can officially apply for the opportunity when an OJEU notice is published in the form of an Invitation to Tender (ITT). You can apply for OJEU tenders using Tenders Electronic daily, affectionately nicknamed TED. Don’t confuse it with TedX. No inspirational videos to find here. This website is a “tiny” bit more user unfriendly. Nevertheless, once you get past this there is a lot to gain from it. Like new public-sector business for example or an insight into what the buyers might need or an opportunity to beat your competitor. Definitely worth a visit!
Be on the lookout for PINs and CAN’s
Don’t just pay attention to the ITT’s when you go on TED. There is more to gain from it!
A useful category on TED are PIN’s (acronym galore!). The public sector uses PINs or Prior Information Notices to let potential suppliers know that they may be looking for certain services. It’s not a formal call for competition, more a testing of the waters. By using a PIN the authority can discuss potential requirements with suppliers in advance to help them gauge their specification or statement of works. A PIN can also allow for a shortening of the tender period (BONUS!). So, be on the lookout for PINs! Get yourself in the game and engage with the authority early, to help them shape their opportunity.
TED also allows suppliers to see CANs. A CAN is a Contract Award Notice. Once the contract is awarded, the relevant information needs to be published on TED. This includes the name of the winning bidder, the duration of the contract, and the contract value (somehow that last one is left out sometimes!). Knowing when a contract ends will tell you when is the right time to pitch your service as an alternative. You might end up beating your competitor after all. On a more collaborative side of the spectrum CANs are also a major source of information for links on who to partner with or potential sub-contracting opportunities.
Tender – A tender is procurement lingo for all contract opportunities published by private and public sector organisations for goods, services, works and utilities.
OJEU– the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) is the online journal that is home to all public sector contracts that are worth above a certain value.
TED– Affectionately nicknamed TED, but actually stands for Tenders Electronic Daily and is where OJEU notices are advertised.
Award– When a contact is issued or and order placed with a supplier.
Competitive tendering– Awarding contracts to suppliers by the process of seeking competing tenders.
Award criteria– The criteria in which the tenders received will be evaluated against.
Contract Notice-An advertisement which notifies suppliers of a contract opportunity.
ITT– or ‘Invitation to Tender’ is the document issued which outlines the scope of a project and invites suppliers to ‘tender’ for those works.
PIN-or ‘Prior Information Notice’ provides the market place with the early notification of the intent to award a contract or a framework. This can lead to early supplier discussions which can help shape the specification.