The procedures related to applying for a contract vary according to both the type of contract you will be working with (services, supplies or works) and the value of the contract. The PRAG gives guidance on how to know which procedure will apply to you. The basic means of awarding all contracts is competitive tendering but within competitive tendering, there are different procedures available to use, each allowing a different degree of competition.
Although the actions and timeframes involved in applying for a contract vary according to the type of procedure, all contract applications involve some or all of the following steps:
Step 1. Prior Information Notice – the information notice consists of general information.
Step 2. Contract Notice - When the tender dossier is ready (and at the earliest 30 days after publication of the Prior Information Notice), the contract notice is published. The contract notice determines the scope of the contract, the type of contract, the maximum available budget and the type of the procedure (open or restricted) being used. It is important to pay attention to the deadline for submission of applications (restricted procedure) or tenders (open procedure). Under open procedures, the tender dossier is made available to tenderers at the same time as publication of the contract notice.
Step 3. Shortlist – In the case of the restricted tendering procedures (where the call is organised in two steps), a shortlist of selected candidates is drawn up after evaluation of the selection criteria. Only those shortlisted will be invited to tender.
Step 4. Invitation to tender – For the restricted procedure, the tender dossier, is sent to the shortlisted companies (usually, it is not published). For the open procedure, as stated above, the tender dossier is made available on publication of the contract notice (step 2). The tender dossier contains - the instructions to tenderers (when and how to submit tenders); the terms of reference (what should be included in the tender and how it will be assessed (award criteria)); and the various administrative forms to be filled in.
Step 5. Evaluation – Tenders are evaluated by an Evaluation Committee which contains an odd number of voters.
Step 6. Contract Award – The Committee recommends either that the contract is granted to a successful tenderer or that the procedure is cancelled. The Contracting Authority then takes its decision, based on the committee's recommendation, to award the contract or cancel the procedure.
Step 7. Contract Signature –The successful and unsuccessful tenderers are notified of the award decision. After the lapse of a standstill period, the contract is signed and the award notice is published.
For more information and details on the steps that apply to specific procedures, please see section 3, procurement procedures.