What is a public sector framework?

Within the public sector, frameworks are used as a way of pre-qualifying suppliers so that they can be procured by various organisations and departments. Normally called Framework Agreements, suppliers will have to agree to terms and conditions and be evaluated before being awarded a place. This means that buyers from the public sector have access to a pool of already checked and qualified suppliers that they can use.

Frameworks follow rules outlined by the UK and used to follow the OJEU process, and since the 1st January 2021 follow the process of the Find a Tender service. The benefit of which being that full tendering processes aren’t needed when procuring through these methods – saving a lot of time. This is why the public sector are using them more and more!

Who owns the frameworks?

There are many different organisations that run routes to the public sector. Crown Commercial Service (CCS) are a government led organisation who announce and release the majority of frameworks that are used by the public sector. They run the Digital Marketplace, which is home of G-Cloud and Digital Outcomes and Specialists – among many others. You can check out their procurement pipeline here.

The NHS and health sector tend to have their own frameworks that they use. However, these can be led by a variety of different organisations such as NHS Supply Chain or NHS SBS.

How do suppliers get on to frameworks?

Different frameworks will have different terms and conditions in place, as well as different criteria that suppliers will have to meet in order to be considered. For example, most (if not all) government run frameworks – such as those run by Crown Commercial Service – will ask for suppliers to have a Cyber Essentials certificate or similar.

A common practice for evaluating suitable suppliers will be a two-step process. Where suppliers will have to submit responses to a Selection stage, this is where suppliers can show they meet financial thresholds, detail their past performances (in line with the scope of services the framework is for) and any relevant accreditation or certifications. Essentially, providing historic information about themselves to show suitability for the framework.

Also usually involved is the Award stage, which is all about Quality and Price. This sections asks for suppliers to provide demonstrations of how they can solve the problems that the framework wants to address, including pricing of their services and products.

As you can see, the exact specifics can change. However, they will have criteria that suppliers need to meet to make sure their able to be a supplier on the framework. These specifications, scope, terms and conditions, and more, are published with the OJEU for each route to market.

How do I stay up to date with frameworks?

There are some different ways of keeping in the know. We recommend keeping an eye on the CCS pipeline page and checking it regularly, as well as following them on Twitter. Another way to keep up to date is by using our Framework Alert service, which sends email notifications when news comes out – or take a look at our own procurement pipeline page, full of handy technology routes to market.