The Tender Advisory Service, TAS, was launched last year to provide an informal outlet for potential suppliers to raise concerns in respect of a particular live tender process. The service is aimed at improving communications with suppliers and increasing professionalism and consistency in the way procurement processes are carried out across the public service. The service will be reviewed at the end of February this year following 12 months in operation.
To date, 27 suppliers have engaged with the service. Of these, four queries were eligible for consideration. Suppliers raised concerns regarding tender specification, the terms and conditions set out in the tender documents, the use of lotting, and requests for sample work. Following an assessment of each eligible query, TAS liaised with the relevant contracting authority. In one case, this resulted in a contracting authority broadening the specification and extending the closing date for the tender. In another, the contracting authority reconsidered its lotting strategy, which led to a further subdivision of a lot. In the remaining two cases, having assessed the queries and liaised with the contracting authorities, no action was deemed necessary.
The remaining 23 queries were deemed ineligible or not appropriate for the service for reasons including that the issues raised were of a general nature and not specific to any particular tender, the supplier had not yet engaged with or exhausted the existing process which is part of the tendering requirement and the supplier had engaged with TAS too late, for example after the whole tendering process was concluded. In instances where the queries were deemed ineligible, suppliers were redirected to either the Office of Government Procurement, OGP customer service team or the contracting authority dealing with the specific tender. Details of the TAS scheme, including frequently asked questions and the standard inquiry form, are available on the procurement website.