Supply contracts

Supply procedures are part of public procurement, whereby the European Commission buys a product. Supply contracts cover the purchase, leasing, rental or hire purchase (with or without option to buy) of products. A contract for both the supply and installation of products is considered a supply contract.

The procedures applied for obtaining supplies vary according to the estimated value of the contract.

Contracts valued at over Euro 300,000 are put out to international open tender. In order to ensure the widest possible participation in competitive tendering and the requisite transparency, an individual contract prior information notice setting out the specific characteristics of the planned tender procedure, will be published, save in exceptional circumstances, at least 30 days before the publication of the contract notice. In addition to prior information notices, all supply contracts of € 300 000 or more will also be the subject of a contract notice published in the Official Journal of the European Union, on the EuropeAid website (at http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/index_en.htm).

Supply contracts of more than EUR 100 000 and less than 300 000 may be awarded through a local open procedure. In this case, contract notice is published in the beneficiary country and on the EuropeAid website with the address from which firms can obtain further information.

Supply contracts under € 100 000 are awarded by competitive negotiated procedure. At least three candidates are sent an invitation to tender.

Contracts with a value of less than or equal to EUR 20 000 may be awarded on the basis of a single tender. For supplies with a value of less than EUR 2 500, the Contracting Authority may pay on the basis of an invoice without prior acceptance of a tender.

Open Tenders

In 'open' calls for tender (international or local) all economic operators may submit a tender. The contract is given maximum publicity by publishing a notice in the Official Journal of the European Union (for international open procedure only), on the EuropeAid website, on the Contracting Authority's website and in any other appropriate media.

The Tender Dossier

The tender dossier is available, normally free of charge, to all interested suppliers. The tender dossier contains
A. Instruction to Tenderers
B. Draft Contract, Special Conditions and Annexes (incl. Technical Specifications)
C. Further Information
D. Tender Form for a Supply Contract 

Tender documents must contain all the provisions and information that tenderers need to submit their tenders: the procedures to follow, the documents to provide, cases of non-compliance, award criteria, etc.

The Technical Specifications state - where applicable, lot by lot - the exact nature and performance characteristics of the supplies. Where applicable, they also specify conditions for delivery and installation, training and after-sales service.

The purpose of the Technical Specifications is to define the required supplies precisely. The minimum quality standards, defined by the Technical Specifications, determine which tenders are technically compliant.

The Tender

Tenders must reach the Contracting Authority at the address and, at the very latest, the date and time indicated in the tender dossier. The minimum period between the date of publication of the contract notice and the deadline for receipt of tenders for international open tenders is 60 days. However, in exceptional cases, a shorter deadline may be given subject to prior authorisation by the European Commission.

Technical and financial tenders must be placed in a single sealed envelope, itself placed in a package or outer envelope. The tender must be sent in accordance with the instructions to tenderers.

The corresponding rules on nationality and origin are listed in Annex A2 of Practical Guide (http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/prag/document.do) for each basic act. All tenders must comply with the rules of origin and all tenderers and subcontractors must comply with the nationality rule explained in point 2.3.1. of  Practical Guide.

Tenderers are bound by their tenders for the period specified in the letter of invitation to tender and/or in the tender dossier. The period of validity of tenders is fixed at 90 days from the deadline for the submission of tenders. The successful tenderer is bound by the tender for a further 60 days, irrespective of the date of notification (i.e 90 (+40) + 60 days) of the award of the contract.

A tender is deemed to comply if it satisfies all the conditions, procedures and specifications in the tender dossier without substantially departing from or attaching restrictions to them. Substantial departures or restrictions are those which affect the scope, quality or performance of the contract, differ widely from the terms of the tender dossier, limit the rights of the Contracting Authority or the tenderer's obligations under the contract or distort competition for tenderers whose tenders do comply.

Tenders are opened and evaluated by an Evaluation Committee formally and promptly appointed by the Contracting Authority comprising a non-voting Chairperson, a non-voting Secretary and minimum three voting members.

The first meeting of the Evaluation Committee is the preparatory meeting and should be held before the tender opening session. The Chairperson states the purpose of the tender, the procedures to be followed by the Evaluation Committee including the evaluation grid and selection and award criteria specified in the tender dossier.

Tender Opening

The tender opening session is a formal, public process. The Evaluation Committee opens the tenders in public at the place and time set in the tender dossier. Although it is public, participation in the tender opening session is restricted to representatives of the companies that are tendering for the contract.

The purpose of the tender opening session is to check that the tenders are complete, that the requisite tender guarantee has been provided and that the tenders are generally in order.

Evaluation of technical offers

The Evaluation Committee must use the administrative compliance grid and the evaluation grid published in the tender dossier. During the technical evaluation, the Evaluation Committee analyses whether the tenders satisfy the requirements set in the tender dossier. This includes any service components included in the technical specifications. With the agreement of the other Evaluation Committee members, the Chairperson may write to tenderers whose submissions require clarification, asking them to reply within a reasonable deadline set by the Committee.

Administrative compliance

Before conducting a detailed evaluation of the tenders, the Contracting Authority checks that they comply with the essential requirements of the tender dossier (i.e. the administrative compliance grid).

Technical compliance

The detailed technical evaluation of the tenders takes place after the administrative compliance check. The criteria to be applied are those published in the tender dossier and, accordingly, the evaluation grid included in the tender dossier must be used. Under no circumstances may the Committee or its members change the evaluation grid communicated to the tenderers in the tender dossier. The purpose of this evaluation is to assess whether or not the competing tenders meet the selection criteria and the minimum technical requirements.

Choice of contractor

The successful tenderer is the one submitting the least expensive tender classified as 'technically compliant' during the technical evaluation. It must be declared the successful tender if it is equal to or lower than the maximum budget available for the contract.

The award criterion applied to technically compliant tenders is price or, in exceptional cases given an approval of the derogation by the European Commission, the best value for money.