Tender Jargon Buster
Definitions for some of the most common tender terminology and abbreviations are listed below. NB The public sector tendering process is full of jargon, hence the cross-referencing. Also, some things have changed post-Brexit and the UK leaves the EU.
Accelerated, Restricted or Negotiated Procedure
For high-value public sector contracts (see Public Procurement Regulations). 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.
Alcatel Mandatory Standstill Period
Minimum 10-day period following a decision to award a high-value contract tendered. This allows unsuccessful bidders the opportunity to challenge the decision before the contract is signed. Named after two linked European Court of Justice cases known as the Alcatel case.
Any Qualified Provider – AQP Method of commissioning certain NHS services.
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.
Authorities Buying Consortium – ABC
The largest non-profit making purchasing agency in Scotland. Serving the buying needs of the public sector, charities and voluntary organisations.
The criteria by which a contract is to be awarded. See evaluation criteria.
A process of continuously measuring and comparing an organisation’s processes against comparable organisations. It is used to gain information to help performance improvement eg “best-in-class” achievement.
Best Practice / Good Practice
Proven and documented working practices for optimal performance within a specific business environment e.g. ‘best in field’.
Better Quality Services – BQS
Guidance for central government departments on the creation of public/private partnerships through market testing and contracting out.
Best Value – BV
Best Value for Money (or best price/quality ratio). The Government’s replacement the old Compulsory Competitive Tendering (CCT) system. The principles make clear that the duty of best value applies to all local authority services. It promotes local accountability and continuous improvement in service performance. See MEAT.
The process of managing a tender submission for a contract and managing the bid team.
See Guarantee Bond.
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 Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP).
Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.
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 (Codes) – CPV
Codes used by the public sector in UK & EU 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.
Competitive Contract Addendum
Notification showing changes, amendments or cancellation of a published Competitive Contract Notice (see below).
Competitive Contract Notice
Public sector contract opportunity advertised via Contracts Finder, Find a Tender, etc (see how to find tenders). These are classified by one of four ‘Nature of the Contract’ categories: Works, Services, Goods or Research (scientific). See Public Procurement Regulations.
Competitive Contract Notice Award
Published details of the company(s) awarded a public sector contract subject to Competitive Contract Notice (see above).
For public sector contracts in construction. The UK’s register of local and national construction and construction-related contractors and consultants www.constructionline.co.uk. The subscription involves pre-qualifying. It is used by many public sector buyers to select suitably qualified (local) suppliers. For public sector contracts in construction. See SSIP.
Consortium for Purchasing and Distribution – CPD
A national procurement and fulfilment business focussed on meeting the needs of its many customers in the Education, Training and Social Care Sectors. They are leaders in the school supplies market and are strong in the South West of England & Wales.
Contract Notice Opportunities
Formal calls for competition for public sector contracts. Classified by procedure type: Open Procedure / Restricted Procedure / Negotiated Procedure. See Finding Public Sector Tenders FREE.
What an organisation does well – its key business – as opposed to other products or services that it can or could offer.
An organisation’s system of rules, procedures etc. used to manage and fulfil its legal, financial and ethical obligations.
Corporate Social Responsibility – CSR
The Government sees CSR as businesses contribution to our sustainable development goals. How a business takes account of its economic, social and environmental impacts in the way it operates – maximising the benefits and minimising the downsides.
An organisation’s management, ethics, style and values.
Defence Electronic Commerce Service – DECS
Ministry of Defence and Capgemini committed to a ten year PPP for the provision of e-commerce and e-business services. These are made available to the Defence community via DECS.
Defence Estates – DE
Responsible for the properties and lands owned by the MOD.
Direct Electronic Links for Tender Administration – DELTA
Internet based electronic tendering process, DELTA is in daily use across much of the UK public sector.
Disaster Recovery Plan – DRP
Policies, tools and procedures to enable the recovery or continuation of infrastructure and systems following a disaster. See Business Continuity Plan (BCP).
Disclosure and Barring Service – DBS
The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) helps employers make safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children. It replaces the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). DBS is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Home Office.
Promoting equality and diversity is a duty the entire UK government takes very seriously. It is a responsibility shared by all government departments. Also Equal Opportunities.
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 – no limits on number of suppliers. Unlike framework agreements, new suppliers can 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.
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). See Electronic Tendering / E-Tenders.
Eastern Shires Purchasing Organisation – ESPO
A joint Committee of Local Authorities and operates within the Local Government (Goods & Services) Act 1970. It acts as a purchasing agent for its member authorities and other customers.
The service provider i.e. bidder.
Electronic Tendering / E-Tenders
Electronic tenders are the norm in public sector procurement; the whole tendering process is conducted electronically. Various systems and processes are used and is normally entirely paperless. See e-Procurement.
Electronic Tendering Online – ELTON
A system to issue tenders electronically and allow companies to submit bids and proposals via email.
Giving employees the necessary skills, knowledge, information and authority to enable them to do their work in the most effective and efficient way.
Expression of Interest
See Initial Expression of Interest.
The practice of ensuring that all employees and users of services receive fair and equal treatment. See Diversity. The Equality Act 2010 combines all of the previously existing legislation on discrimination into one single statute.
European Single Procurement Document – ESPD
A self-declaration of a businesses’ financial status, abilities and suitability for a public procurement procedure (e.g. paid taxes, no criminal convictions etc.). See EU.
A formal agreement with selected (or short-listed) suppliers. There is no guarantee of any commitment to spend any money with one or more suppliers. It establishes the terms of contract, price and quantity. 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.
Freedom of Information Act – FOIA
Freedom of Information Act 2000 provides public access to information held by public authorities. Members of the public are entitled to request information from public authorities. This can include tender submissions.
An insurance guarantee sometimes required by the authority as part of the contract. The supplier is guaranteed to pay the authority a sum if the fail in performing the contract. Also used where a parent company guarantee cannot be provided.
The framework of authority and control within an organisation.
Health and Safety Executive – HSE
Government body responsible for health and safety regulation in Great Britain.
Initial Expression of Interest – IEO
High value public sector contracts are advertised via Contracts Finder or Find a Tender. They usually start with asking parties interested in bidding to write and express their interest in bidding. This is different to a Periodic Indicative Notice (or Prior Information Notice). (See PIN). Also known as an Expression of Interest.
New ideas for products, services, processes, systems and social interactions that bring benefit to the contract.
The value of an organisation that is not shown in its traditional financial accounts. This intangible asset of an organisation is the difference between market and book value e.g. know-how, people, structure etc.
International Standards Organization – ISO
An international standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards bodies producing world-wide industrial and commercial standards.
Investors in People – IIP
Investors in People is a recognised (audited) standard. It shows the use of the IIP business improvement tool designed to advance an organisation’s performance through its people.
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.
Key Performance Indicators – KPIs
Specific measurements of service delivery within a Service Level Agreement (SLA).
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.
Management Information System – MIS
The mechanism for measuring and reporting information relevant to the management of service delivery. Information that assists both the supplier and customer.
Materials, Buildings and Equipment
Physical items including stocks of raw materials, finished products, material in progress and fixed assets.
A short statement that describes the purpose of an organisation, why it exists and its aims. (Also see Vision).
In health & safety, it explains how a task or process is to be carried out safely. However in tender questions, method statements often refer to answering how something will be achieved e.g. zero defect.
The Modern Slavery Act 1st October 2015: in the UK commercial organisations that supply goods or services with an annual turnover of £36m or more must have a slavery and human trafficking statement.
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. See Best Value.
National Audit Office – NAO
Its role is to audit the financial statements of all government departments, agencies and many other public bodies. It reports on how well the expenditure of public money achieves value for money (VFM) and improvements in the delivery of public services.
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 advertised contract notices. They also help suppliers find tenders.
For high-value public sector contracts (see Public Procurement Regulations). Only chosen suppliers are invited to negotiate for a contract(s). Limited use 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 in 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. See TED. NB the UK is no longer required to publish in TED, it now uses Find a Tender.
For high-value public sector contracts (see Public Procurement Regulations). Suppliers can apply without prior selection e.g. going through a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ). The Regulations lay down the type of criteria which can be used to eliminate unqualified or unsuitable suppliers.
A working relationship between two or more parties either creating added value for the customer or as a means to win contracts that individually they may not be successful with. Partners can include suppliers, distributors, joint ventures, and alliances. Note: Suppliers may not always be recognised as formal partners. (Also see Joint Ventures.)
Periodic Indicative Notice, 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 placed. This is different to an Initial Expression of Interest (See IEO).
Pre-qualification Questionnaire – PQQ
A set of questions designed to help buyers select the most suitable bidders to be invited to tender. See Fit To Tender Checklist. Public sector now mainly uses SQs as a two-stage process cannot be used for below threshold procurements (see Public Procurement Regulations).
Private Finance Initiative – PFI
Private sector investment into public sector projects (e.g. hospitals). It provides a way of funding major capital investments, without immediate recourse to the public purse.
Rules that affect public sector procurement and tenders including thresholds.
Public Private Partnership – PPP
Similar to PFI (above).
Public Services (Social Value) Act
See social value.
Request for Information – RFI
An alternative term for Pre-qualification Questionnaire (PQQ)
Request for Proposal – RFP
A formal request for a proposal –can range from a simple proposal to a complex tender.
Request for Quotation – RFQ
Similar to RFP (above).
For high-value public sector contracts (see Public Procurement Regulations). Suppliers are selected by an open first-round invitation e.g. a Pre-qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) or Selection Questionnaire (SQ). 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. NB This is the most common type of tender for high-value contracts.
Selection Questionnaire (SQ)
A set of questions designed to help buyers select the most suitable bidders to be invited to tender. See Fit To Tender Checklist. SQs replaced PQQs to simplify the qualifying process. The standard Selection Questionnaire can be used a starting point to develop supplier selection questions in the tender documents for lower value procurements. See PQQ and Procurement Regulations.
Service Level Agreement – SLA
A mechanism for helping a service provider and its customers achieve a shared understanding about services and service delivery. An SLA is a tool that helps manage the expectations, clarify responsibilities, and provide an objective basis for assessing service delivery. See Key Performance Indicators KPIs).
Small and Medium-sized Enterprises – SMEs
Official term – SMEs are firms that employ less than 250 people and have a turn over of less than €50m.
Public Services (Social Value) Act. When letting a contract, the public sector must take into account not just value for money (cost and quality) but also social, environmental and economic aspects.
Society of Procurement Officers in Local Government – SOPO
With over 2,500 members, SOPO engages in a range of activities to promote its strategic purchasing, contracting and supplies functions. It is also a platform to share best practice and influence the national agenda on how “Best Value” is to be achieved.
Individuals, groups or organisations that are affected by and/or have an interest in a particular issue or organisation. e.g. customers, partners, employees, shareholders, owners, government and regulators.
In simple terms, working with suppliers to achieve mutual goals – as opposed to ‘them and us’.
See Alcatel Mandatory Standstill Period.
Any organisation employed by the Prime / Main Contractor forming part of their Supply Chain. The term sub-contractor can be used interchangeably with sub-consultant, sub-supplier and so on dependent upon the type of organisation employed.
Replaced by Contracts Finder.
The flow of resources into and out of the enterprise’s collective operations e.g. an IT supply chain is the flow of resources into and out of its IT operations. The chain can be said to start with the suppliers of your suppliers and ends with the customers of your customer.
A widely-used and accepted international definition is: ‘development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. e.g. the environmental and social impact of today’s actions that may affect the ability of future generations.
The application of sustainable development principles to procurement (see above).
Tender / Tendering
A formalised process of bidding for work or contracts. Purchasers seek the best price or value for money from a selection of prospective suppliers. See ITT.
The stages in the procurement process when tendering.
Tenders Electronic Daily – TED
The official website for EC tender information https://ted.europa.eu. It publishes the Official Journal of the European Union (see OJEU above). Post-Brexit it has been replaced in the UK by Find a Tender. See Useful Tips on Finding Public Sector Tenders FREE.
Thresholds – Above & Below
Refers to high-value and low-value thresholds in the Public Procurement Regulations.
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 or when a facility is first outsourced. This enables affected employees to enjoy continuity of employment keeping the same terms and conditions. Often referred to as the TUPE regulations.
Represent the beliefs within an organisation and are demonstrated through the day-to-day behaviours of its employees.
Another term for alternative bid.
Statement describing how an organisation wishes to be in the future. See Mission Statement.
Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation.
If you come across anything which is not explained in this glossary please contact us and we will endeavour to help. If you have any comments, corrections or ideas please use the contact form
More Useful Tendering Resources
Details on what you need to consider before tendering in the Fit To Tender Check-list
Tony Zemaitis contributed to BT’s Upload magazine on Winning the Big Contracts – it includes his 7 Top Tips Tips for a Successful Tender.
How to Win Tenders Blog – full of hints and tips on tendering